Nintendo's Wii game console outsold Sony's PlayStation 3 by more than five to one in Japan last month, Japanese game magazine publisher Enterbrain said, casting a shadow over a turnaround in Sony's game business.
Sony's game division posted an operating loss of 232 billion yen ($1.91 billion) in the year ended March 31 due to hefty start-up costs of the PS3, dragging down Sony's overall profitability and making the game unit the biggest risk factor for the company's nascent recovery.
Nintendo sold 251,794 units of the Wii in May, compared with 45,321 units of the PS3 sold. The ratio was four to one in April.
Nintendo launched the Wii in November. The device features a motion-sensitive controller that allows users to direct on-screen play by swinging it like a tennis racket or wielding it like a sword, opening a new avenue of game playing.
Rival Sony also started selling the PS3 late last year, but has seen slow demand so far due to its high price tag and limited availability of attractive software titles.
"If there were half a dozen good titles people wanted to play on the PS3, I'm sure it would actually be doing quite well," KBC Securities analyst Hiroshi Kamide said.
"We are only less than a year into the new (console) cycle. It is wrong to say Nintendo has won and Sony has lost ... It's not game over, but it's not very encouraging."
Sony aims to ship 11 million units of the PS3 in the current business year to March 2008, up from 5.5 million a year earlier.
Hitting that target seems "rather difficult", Kamide said.
In the United States, the Wii was the top-selling new console for the fourth month in a row in April, with Nintendo selling 360,000 units, while Sony sold 82,000 units of the PS3 and Microsoft Corp. sold 174,000 Xbox 360 machines.
Nintendo shares gained 0.1% to 42,650 yen in late afternoon trade, while Sony was up 0.3% at 6,860 yen.