Video games posted a record year in 2007 with $17.9 billion in sales, according to the NPD Group. That's a 43 percent increase over 2006 and includes video-game software, hardware and accessories.

"While I wouldn't count on similar growth in 2008, I would expect to see 2008 increase over 2007, with more growth (proportionately) coming from software sales," NPD analyst Anita Frazier said.

Nintendo ruled the year in system sales, with its portable Nintendo DS selling 8.5 million units and its hot home console, the Wii, selling 6.3 million. The Xbox 360 came in third, with system sales of 4.6 million -- although it still rules overall with total to-date sales of 9.2 million vs. the Wii's 7.4 million.

The PlayStation 3 continues to lag far behind the Wii and Xbox 360. Even after widely publicized price cuts to a low of $399, the PS3 sold fewer units in December than its venerable predecessor, the PlayStation 2 -- 798,000 units for the PS3 (2.6 million for the entire year) vs. 1.1 million for the PS2 (4 million).

But the PS3's fortunes could change dramatically this year now that Blu-ray has effectively been declared the winner in the high-def disc war with HD DVD. The PS3 is by far the most popular Blu-ray player, so the Blu-ray victory could boost sales of the machine.

Sony's PlayStation Portable sold 3.8 million units in 2007.

On the software side, the Xbox 360 game "Halo 3" gunned down the competition by selling 4.8 million copies, according to NPD, to become the top game of 2007. "Wii Play," bolstered by the inclusion of an extra controller, was close behind with sales of 4.1 million.

"If 'Halo 3' was the game of the year (in terms of sales), one has to recognize the tremendous success of the 'Guitar Hero' franchise," Frazier said. "'Guitar Hero' games [for all systems] sold over $820 million at U.S. retail, which is a record for any single franchise in any one year."

Interestingly, while the "Madden NFL" games are a perennial bestseller, only the PS2 version of "Madden 08" finished in the top 10 for the year, at No. 7 with sales of 1.9 million.

Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542