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The July U.S. video game sales numbers show that Nintendo is way out ahead but Sony has beaten Microsoft yet again in the battle for second place.

Nintendo sold 555,000 Wii consoles during the month, down from 666,700 consoles a month earlier. But that was far ahead of Sony, which sold 224,900 PlayStation 3s and Microsoft, which sold 204,800 Xbox 360s.

Industry sales slowed considerably in July, with total growth at 28 percent to $1.19 billion compared to 53 percent growth in June. Video game software sales were up 41 percent to $591 million in July, but accessory sales were up 19 percent to $149.1 million and hardware sales were up only 17 percent to $446.9 million. Overall, the industry is still growing 35 percent a year. But the July slowdown may be a concern to those who worry about the impact of the recession on game sales.

The Nintendo DS sold 608,400 units while the Sony PlayStation Portable sold 221,700 units. The PS 2 sold 155,510 units. Sony noted that its sales are up 99 percent year to date. But it has to be concerned about how the DS is pulling away; Nintendo happily noted the Wii had 49 percent of the console market in July while the DS had 73 percent of the handheld market.

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Microsoft said in a statement that it is still selling more games per console than its rivals at 7.9 games sold per console. It also said it has sold $10.4 billion worth of Xbox 360 hardware, games and accessories since the Xbox 360 launched in November 2005. But it’s clear that Microsoft has to start thinking seriously about how to pull back ahead of Sony in the console hardware business.

The top game of the month was NCAA Football 09 (pictured above) from Electronic Arts. The top ten games list had four Wii titles, one Nintendo DS title, three Xbox 360 games and two Sony PS 3 games. My takeaway: July is a slow month. But the game industry isn’t defying gravity anymore. Look for price moves coming soon to keep the robust growth going.

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