Talking tech since 2003

In November, two of gaming’s giants released their independent visions for the future of video game home consoles. Sony with its more affordable, more powerful, more indie-friendly PlayStation 4, and Microsoft with its entertainment-focused, voice-command driven, big budget Xbox One.

Months of pre-launch analyzing and reporting gave us promising statistics of how the consoles might perform given pre-order numbers, audience reactions to announcements, and reception on part of the press and the gamer. But nobody could have really known how the cards would fall, not until the consoles released and players voted with their dollars.

And voted, so far, they have. With an over 4-month separation from the launch of Sony and Microsoft’s new machines, let’s take an in-depth look at how the consoles, the games, and the corporate messages of the next generation of consoles are selling to gamers across the globe.

Console Sales


Though no hard, week-to-week sales have been delivered from both Sony and Microsoft, both companies have been very public-facing with their overall success in sales each month. The PlayStation 4 released first in the US and Canada on November 15, and was able to sell well over one million consoles in its first day alone. After one month, it had sold roughly 2.37 million units.

The Xbox One, which released on November 22, also sold over one million consoles in less than 24 hours. After one month, however, it was behind Sony with only 1.84 million units sold. 2013 wrapped on a high note for both companies, but just a slightly higher one for Sony.

And now, well into 2014, both systems are selling reasonably well, with the PlayStation 4 still leading the pack by a landslide. As of March 4, Sony announced that the system had sold a whopping 6 million PS4 consoles worldwide, thanks to a successful recent launch in Japan — putting it at nearly double Xbox One sales, which sit somewhere between 3 million and 4 million sales worldwide. Analysts say it’s likely closer to 3.5 million all told.

It’s important to note that the PS4 is available in 57 worldwide markets right now, whereas the Xbox One is currently only purchasable in 13. Now, does this mean that the Xbox One is in trouble of failing? No, of course not, millions of people are buying the console, and thousands more are picking it up every day. The PS4 is just doing gangbusters by comparison, which means they’re just doing much, much better.

And after slogging through Microsoft’s mud in the last generation, and having its casual gamer lunch eaten by Nintendo, they’re probably pretty satisfied with the PS4’s dominance right now.

Game Sales


Alright, so we’ve talked about how many game consoles people are buying, but just how many games are they actually picking up and playing? Sony and Microsoft have some numbers on that too. Since launch, Sony has sold 13.7 million PS4 games, with its best seller, first person shooter Killzone: Shadow Fall, owning over 2.1 million of those sales.

So far as Xbox One software sales go, stats on VGChartz indicate that somewhere between 8 and 10 million games have been sold, with the rough approximation sitting somewhere around 9.2 million overall.

Sony selling more consoles doesn’t necessarily mean they automatically sell more games, as the Xbox One could have had a far more compelling lineup at launch, meaning more early adopters buy more games from the outset. But it seems the conventional “sell more hardware, sell more games” adage applies here – at least right now. And for Sony, that’s exactly what they had in mind, after taking the financial loss on consoles sales to hit a lower price point.

The Wii U


Now when looking at both most recent next-generation consoles, it’s easy to look at the performance of each and make your own assessments – be that one related to a potential purchase or just analytical interest on your part. But let’s consider for a moment, the sales of the odd man out, the Wii U from Nintendo.

The Wii U released in, hold on to your socks, November 2012, if you’ve forgotten, a whole year ahead of the competition. Of course, with its confusing name, lack of enough compelling first-party titles, and overall miscommunicated pitch to buyers, it hasn’t been selling like hotcakes.

It does, however, have as many console sales (or quite close to it) as the PlayStation 4. At first, that gives reason to pause and think, given that Sony is celebrating the success of the PS4 with six million sales, while Nintendo is losing money hand over fist at that same milestone. The difference is, understandably, that the Wii U has been out for well over a full year. The PS4 hasn’t even been out for six months.

For the Wii U, it’s struggling to gain a foothold in the market its older brother, the Wii, captured with the casual market and Wii Sports. However, its steady release of quality first-party titles like Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker HD, and the delightful Super Mario 3D World, you can’t say Nintendo isn’t trying. And that’s not even considering the fact that they’re also putting out Mario Kart 8 and a new Super Smash Bros. this year, followed by an eventual new Zelda title.

But where we are right now, ¼ of the way through the new year, and the next generation of games firmly in motion – what’s the state of the console wars? Right now, Sony is leading the pack with the PS4, the Xbox One is hoping to catch a sales break with the forthcoming hit Titanfall, and Nintendo is pumping out games to try and keep the Wii U heart a pumpin. And that’s not even considering what Valve is doing in the PC space with SteamOS, but we’ll save that for another video.

For the time being, kick back and watch the fireworks. Because in the end, these companies will always fight, but it’s you who gets great video games.

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