Sony's much-maligned PlayStation 3 has defied the odds and has now outsold Microsoft's Xbox 360 in Europe for the fourth week in a row. The figures come from chart aggregator VG Chartz, which shows that the PS3 sold around 1,500 more units than the 360 (w/e 12th August).

It's a small margin, but one that will please Sony no end. It's currently lagging far behind the Xbox and the Nintendo Wii in terms of total sales, so any ground that it can make back will be a big bonus.

In Europe, the VG Chartz weekly breakdown shows that the Xbox 360 is very popular in the UK, but that it suffers in other high profile European countries such as Spain and Italy, where Sony and Nintendo are both more popular brands.

In the UK last week, the Xbox 360 sold 30 per cent more units than the more expensive PlayStation 3. However, in Germany the figures are all-but level, and in Spain and Italy the PS3 is in front by an inversed margin. It's important to point out that there are far fewer consoles being sold in those countries compared to the UK, but in terms of popularity ratio, things look fairly good for Sony.

PS3 on the charge?

In the US, the Xbox 360 is selling around 22 per cent more consoles than the PS3, while in Japan the PS3 is very strong, selling 88 per cent more than the 360.

In all territories though, the Nintendo Wii is completely rampant, sweeping all contenders to the curb with widespread domination. The Wii could well become the biggest selling next-gen console of all in the next couple of weeks, despite launching a year after the Xbox 360.

According to the VG Chartz numbers this week, the Xbox still leads the global console race, but only just. It's racked up 10.43 million sales compared to the Wii's 10.41 million. The PS3 is lagging well behind with 4.16 million units shifted.

Unlike many other websites which use manufacturer shipment figures and reports to estimate current console sales, VG Chartz says it collects data directly from retailers all over the world.