— Games and consoles still moving off the shelves : NPD’s latest numbers show that the gaming industry is thriving in spite of the recession. U.S. sales of video game hardware, software and accessories topped $2.9 billion in November, and Nintendo was the big winner. The family-friendly gaming company sold over 2 million Wii’s last month — more than double the 981,000 it sold in November 2007. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) also offloaded a ton of Xbox 360s — 836,000 to be exact — up 7 percent from 777,000 last year. Meanwhile, consumers bought 378,000 Sony (NYSE: SNE) PS3s in November, down about 19 percent from 466,000 last year. Like its competitors, Sony’s sales were up sequentially, but SAI floats the idea that the year-over-year decline is indicative of the more deep-seated problems the PS3 faces in the console wars.
— Hearst retools casual games on Redbook, Good Housekeeping sites : Hearst has revamped the casual game areas on the Good Housekeeping and Redbook sites with a focus on social features: women can rank, review and email the games to friends. The games are powered by NY-based advergame firm Arkadium, per Ad Age.
— Virtual world for Muslims goes live : Muxlim.com, an online community for Muslims, has launched a beta version of its virtual world called Muxlim Pal. The world has the standard features — avatar creation, living space customization, socializing and shopping — but with a Sims-like twist: the way the player “lives” impacts factors like happiness, fitness, knowledge and spirituality. Founder Mohamed El-Fatatry told the BBC News that the world was aimed at Muslims in Western nations, as well as non-Muslims seeking to better understand the culture and lifestyle.