The Xbox 360 may have won the last major console battle over the PlayStation 3, but even though the latest machines have only been around for a couple of months, Sony’s latest PlayStation 4 is already establishing a degree of authority over its Redmond-made rival. By the close of the year, the PS4 had sold 1.2 million more units compared with the Xbox One, and even though the latter did sell more in December in the United States, sales figures for January by NPD Group indicate that Sony’s new machine outsold its adversary by a ratio of almost 2-to-1, but there’s a small surprise lurking inside the numbers.
Even though both have barely reached the three month mark, it’s already looking as though Sony has seized the initiative, and while it’s too early to make any solid judgments regarding which way the tide will eventually turn, but Microsoft is winning in one major area; the amount of time gamers are spending on the console itself, playing and buying games. And according to the latest numbers, gamers have spent 740 million hours playing games, and US gamers have bought an average of 2.7 games per console. But still, Microsoft did manage to inflict itself some damage before the Xbox One started hitting shelves last year.
After all, by launching later than its main competitor in such a market as the United States – if only by a week – the Xbox One lost out on those eager, early-adopting gamers that simply wanted a new console and weren’t too fussy about the branding. Moreover, it could be argued that those on the fence will have been drawn in by the PS4’s prompt availability, and simply opted for the Sony console rather than having to wait.
But being second in line is not the major reason why the Xbox One is slipping behind the PlayStation 4.
Microsoft’s biggest gaffe was in the pre-release ambiguity over DRM and used games, and even though the company famously back-tracked and announced that the console would not be beset by such restrictions, for some, the damage was already done.
Consider the fact that, due to Kinect being bundled as standard, the Xbox One costs $100 more than the new PlayStation, and you can already see why gamers have not been so keen to go out and purchase Microsoft’s latest entertainment system. Being less powerful than the PS4 is just the icing on the cake, and even though, over time and as prices reduce, we’ll have a better idea of which side will emerge victorious, right now, things are shaping up to be very one-sided when it comes to what people are buying.
But if history is teaching us anything; we have this gut feeling that the Xbox One will turn out to be a winner in the long run.