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Xbox 360 sells 326,000 in USA

Call of Duty 2 tops games chart.

The first independent figures regarding the launch performance of the Xbox 360 in North America have been released by the NPD Group, revealing that 325,902 consoles were sold by the end of November.

Shortages of the hardware at retail have held back Microsoft's console sales, which lag behind the early performance of the original Xbox - which sold 556,000 units in a comparable amount of time after launch back in 2001, despite direct competition from Nintendo's GameCube, launched only three days later.

However, the console has had an incredibly strong launch in software terms, with 1.27 million units of software shipping alongside those hardware units - representing a tie ratio of 3.9, far higher than the original Xbox tie ratio of 2.4.

Whether that healthy figure is down to consumers being "encouraged" to pre-order additional software in order to guarantee the status of their console pre-orders as the imminent shortages became clear in the run up to launch or not is a matter for debate - but for software publishers, it represents a major bonanza from the new launch.

Activision, in particular, will be delighted with this showing; Call of Duty 2 was far and away the most popular launch title for the Xbox 360, and with just over a quarter of a million sales, 77 per cent of all Xbox 360 purchasers brought home the game with their console.

Electronic Arts took the next two places in the inaugural Xbox 360 monthly chart, with Madden NFL 2006 selling some 178,000 units, and Need for Speed Most Wanted selling 108,000, while the Limited Edition version of Microsoft's Perfect Dark Zero - the best selling title in the UK at launch - was the highest ranked first-party game at number four, with sales of nearly 86,000 units. The standard version of the game also featured lower down the chart, although an exact sales figure isn't available.

Microsoft claims to be making regular hardware shipments to retail in the wake of the launch, and will continue to do so into the New Year - but with many specialist retailers still working through a backlog of pre-orders, it may be after Christmas before there's much free stock of the Xbox 360 on shelves.

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GamesIndustry International is the world's leading games industry website, incorporating GamesIndustry.biz and IndustryGamers.com.

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