Last week's E3 Media and Business Summit in Los Angeles concentrated on the business of games in the U.S. But that doesn't mean little...

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Last week’s E3 Media and Business Summit in Los Angeles concentrated on the business of games in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean little is happening elsewhere, of course.

On the games front, in fact, the battle for Europe during the current console generation may be more interesting and perhaps more up for grabs than in the U.S.

And if Microsoft Xbox boss Don Mattrick wants to back up the claim he made last week — that “Xbox 360 will sell more consoles worldwide this generation than PlayStation 3” — he’ll have to win in Europe.

Billy Pidgeon, a longtime games-industry analyst with IDC, set the stage for this part of the console battle when he said in a recent interview: “The U.S. is going as expected. Sure, there’s still market share to be decided over the long run, but before, in previous cycles, you had to wait until North America and Japan had matured a bit before you would go whole-hog into Europe.

“But now, because of economic issues like the euro, but more so because … the [game] launches, so far, have been worldwide, the story that people aren’t seeing is the struggle for market share in Europe.”

To wit, “Final Fantasy XIII,” the blockbuster title that will have a multiplatform release (it originally was to be a Sony PlayStation 3 exclusive), will be available simultaneously in North America and Europe. Another potential blockbuster title, “Resident Evil 5,” is coming out next year simultaneously in North America, Europe and Japan.

Microsoft and Nintendo come into the current-generation console battle in Europe as the underdogs.

“Historically, PlayStation 2 has been the dominant presence in Western Europe,” Steve Bailey, games analyst at Screen Digest, a London market-research firm, said.

At the end of 2007, more than 22 percent of Western European households had a PS2, compared with 2.9 percent for Nintendo’s GameCube and 3.7 percent for Microsoft’s original Xbox.

So far, Microsoft’s one-year head start has helped the Xbox 360 gain a narrow lead over the PS3, but Screen Digest’s forecast has Sony’s console coming from behind and overtaking even the Nintendo Wii by 2012.

Numbers watch

Our monthly watch on the usual statistics was a case of role reversal last week.

First, the thundering footsteps the Microsoft Xbox 360 has heard for the past few months jumped out in front.

The Nintendo Wii surpassed the Xbox 360 in U.S. sales last month, reaching an installed base of 10.9 million, compared with the latter’s 10.5 million.

In the case of U.S. search-market share, surprise, surprise: Google saw its share decline slightly in June from May (61.5 percent vs. 61.8 percent), according to figures from comScore.

Meanwhile, Yahoo (20.9 percent vs. 20.6 percent) and Microsoft (9.2 percent vs. 8.5 percent) increased.

40 years of chips

In case you missed it, Friday was Intel‘s 40th birthday.

Gordon Moore (of Moore’s law fame) and physicist Robert Noyce started the chip pioneer — whose name is short for Integrated Electronics — on July 18, 1968, in Mountain View, Calif.

Since then, according to the company, now based in Santa Clara, Intel has provided more than 1 billion processors and today has 300 offices and 82,000 employees worldwide.

The only question is: Could they fit 40 candles on a chip?

On the record

New leadership: Vigilos, a Seattle-based developer of remote security-guard technology, has named Cliff Sink as its chief executive. Former CEO Bob Shuman will remain at the company as chief operating officer.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or