Microsoft has just announced that the Xbox 360 is celebrating its best European Christmas to date.

Latest sales data shows Christmas 2008 was, according to the platform holder, "the biggest sales period ever in the brand's six-year European history, with sales of Xbox 360 almost double those of Christmas 2007."

Eight million Xbox 360 consoles have been sold in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) up to the end of 2008, "widening its lead over PlayStation 3 in the region to more than one million and setting the scene for further growth in 2009."

Fastest growing console

Microsoft also adds that "GfK-ChartTrack data shows that Xbox 360 was the fastest-growing console of 2008, with sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 over double that of the same period in 2007, spurred on by a mix of value, great games and entertainment, and the recently-launched New Xbox Experience."

Chris Lewis, Microsoft's Regional Vice President for the Interactive Entertainment Business in the EMEA region, said: "Christmas 2008 was a resounding success for Xbox 360. 2008 saw us grow faster than any of our competitors and we over-achieved in sales during the crucial Christmas selling period.

"We reduced the entry-level Xbox 360 ERP in September, understanding the need for great value, and European consumers have responded enthusiastically. With eight million consoles sold since we launched, and consistently out-selling PlayStation 3 in EMEA, we're poised to build on this success in 2009."

Lewis also gives a nod to Microsoft's "partnerships with retail and with publishers, with whom we've worked closely to build a strong ecosystem in the region and to bring value to our shared customer base."

Value gaming, friendly analysts

Lewis also talks about the need to provide games at 'the right price' in the current uncertain economic climate.

Nick Gibson, from Games Investor Consulting, is quoted in Microsoft's press release as saying: "Microsoft appears to have enjoyed an excellent end to 2008 in Europe. According to GFK Chart Track data, the Xbox 360 recorded in excess of 100 per cent growth in December sales compared to 2007 across the UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain, well ahead of any other console. It also recorded comfortably the highest rate of year-on-year growth for the final quarter of 2008 overall."

Microsoft also quotes another analyst, this time Nick Parker of Parker Consulting, who adds: "I have seen early returns for the December 2008 sales data indicating that the Xbox 360 has shown a significant sales increase year on year and furthermore is ahead of its nearest rival in terms of lifetime consumer hardware sales in the EMEA region, with an installed base of over eight million units."