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With Xbox 360 updates and sales like these, who needs next-gen consoles?

The Xbox 360 beat out the Nintendo Wii in November, one analyst said. Meanwhile, Microsoft has launched a new Xbox software package, and both Nintendo and Microsoft edge closer to issuing new gaming platforms. 

By Matthew Shaer / December 5, 2011

The Xbox 360 is outselling the Nintendo Wii by a hefty margin. Here, gamers at a show in Tokyo try out the Microsoft Xbox 360.

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The Xbox 360 continues to rack up solid sales, while the Nintendo Wii – once the top-selling platform in the world – has seen its hold on the market erode. That's the news this week from Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, who estimates Microsoft sold 1.44 million units in November, up 5 percent over the same time last year. Nintendo, by comparison, sold a little over a million units in November, which represents a 17 percent drop, year over year. 

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According to CNET, which obtained a copy of Pachter's note to investors, a big chunk of these sales can be attributed to a strong Black Friday. But there's still plenty of information to be culled from the data: After half a decade, the Wii is slipping, while the Xbox 360 remains popular (undoubtedly thanks to the still strong array of Xbox 360 titles), as does the Sony PlayStation 3, which sold to the tune of 750,000 units in November, up 41 percent over 2010. 

Despite these monthly figures, overall sales still lean toward the Wii. As of October, Nintendo has sold 89.36 million consoles since the Wii's release in 2006, while Microsoft sold 57.6 million worldwide since the 360 came out in 2005.

In related news, tomorrow morning, Microsoft will push live a major Xbox software update. The update, in brief, seeks to expand the purview of the Xbox 360, from a mere gaming platform to a multimedia hub. With the new software, Xbox Live Gold members will be able to access content from providers such as TMZ and Reuters, and stream TV shows from HBO GoVerizon FiOS, Bravo, and SyFy, among others. 

Xbox is also getting an aesthetic overhaul, which brings the gaming system in line with the "Metro" interface introduced on Windows Phone 7 and improves its motion-sensitive Kinect controls. "With Xbox, the Metro look starts with the content hubs – such as video, games, and social – is played horizontally across the top of the screen. Selecting a hub shows the rectangular tile Metro-look," CNET notes

Of course, there's also the possibility that Microsoft will release a next-generation console, possibly called the Xbox 720, sometime next year. Early rumors point to two consoles, with varying hard drive capacities. If accurate, that means the Xbox 720 would go toe to toe with the Nintendo Wii U, which is also due in 2012. And here's betting Sony wouldn't be far behind. 

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