Thirty-two months, or 2-and-a-half years: That’s how long Microsoft’s Xbox 360 held the top spot in the U.S. console market, based on unit sales. But the streak ended as of September, as Sony’s PlayStation 3 took the top spot, according to numbers released this afternoon by the NPD Group.
The critical factor: Grand Theft Auto V. NPD says Sony’s result was driven by sales of a special GTA V-branded PS3 bundle that comes with the game. That was just one of the ways that the new installment in the blockbuster franchise reshaped the U.S. video game market in September.
“The launch of Grand Theft Auto V this September was a much needed shot in the arm for the industry. Overall retail sales across hardware, software and accessories were up 27% versus September 2012, lifted by software sales of Grand Theft Auto V,” said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.
In a statement, Microsoft said Xbox 360 “remains the number one selling console in the U.S. in 2013, with 1.6 million units sold this year.”
Both companies are launching the next versions of their consoles, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, next month.