Feature Article

Advantage PS4: Why Sony is winning the console war

Editorial: The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are going to have a great 2014, but Sony is a clear number one in the continuing console "war."

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Just in case you're someone who's inclined to read the title of this opinion piece, skim the first paragraph, and then jump straight to the comments section, this is not a doom-and-gloom message for Microsoft. The Xbox One is selling really well, the Microsoft games division isn't about to go out of business, and the launch of the Xbox One has not been a complete disaster (though it's been a small one). But the Xbox One is in second place, and that's where it's going to stay for this console cycle.

Closer to the next-gen launch, I wrote about why the sales numbers didn't really matter. Both the Xbox One and PS4 broke records out of the gate (mostly because more systems were initially available than at any previous console launch). But we knew back at the start of 2013 that consumers had a more positive perception of the PlayStation 4, and the chart below shows that the gulf in purchase intent between Microsoft and Sony's machine only grew larger prior to the systems' launches.

Data provided by the market research portal GameSpot TRAX (www.trax.gamespot.com), encompassing monthly surveys of users on GameSpot.com and GameFAQs.com. This question used top box scores from purchase intent for next-gen consoles.

Those statistics were surprising, since, looking back on "last-gen," the Xbox 360 was always a clear front-runner in the US. But the above chart makes a little more sense when looking at the trajectory of the PS3. Neither Sony nor Microsoft release monthly console sales numbers, but while the Xbox 360 sold more units overall than the PS3 in the US in 2013. However, Sony broke Microsoft's 32-month first-place home console streak back in September of last year.

And those projections have so far proven to be accurate. While both next-gen consoles started out strong in November, the PS4 nearly doubled sales of the Xbox One in January. And with the PS4 now out in Japan and off to a solid start, that gulf between Sony and Microsoft is only going to grow wider. Microsoft still has no set date for bringing their console to Japan, which doesn't necessarily mean they'll be outsold over there, but Microsoft has generally faced an uphill battle in Japan. Even the Wii U is outperforming Microsoft's current Xbox 360 console in total sales, which doesn't present a very rosy picture for future Japanese success. [Note: I still think the Wii U is a pretty great machine, but even Nintendo has spoken out on its much lower than expected sales.]

Some (namely Microsoft and Sony) argue that console sales are a marathon, not a sprint, and getting an initial lead doesn't guarantee success. After all, the Xbox 360 had a year head start, yet the PS3 has matched the Xbox 360 in total global sales. But in any race, not everyone can be first, and for this generation of consoles, that honor is going to PS4. Here's why it happened, and in the end, why it'll actually make the Xbox better next time.

The Games

Sony has the potential for more exciting exclusive games than Microsoft.

Sure, Titanfall is getting a lot of hype right now for the Xbox One, but you have to use "exclusive" in a pretty broad sense--the game is also going to be out on 360 and PC. And developer Respawn is keeping their options open for the inevitable Titanfall 2.

But recently, Microsoft hasn't had a great track record with getting games that no other system has. The only notable exclusive for the Xbox 360 last year was Gears of War: Judgment. And we'll inevitably have some more Halo (although the original developer, Bungie, is now working on the multiplatform shooter Destiny). And the long-time favorite Fable series has more in the works (Fable: Legends), but the developer has lost their original creative director, Peter Molyneux.

The best games for both the PS4 and Xbox One at launch were multiplatorm, but the PS3 last year had Beyond, Dragon's Crown, Puppeteer, and award-winning The Last of Us. It's impossible to know what new franchises both Sony and Microsoft will show at this year's E3, but with Naughty Dog, Guerrilla Games, Sucker Punch Productions, ThatGameCompany, and more, Sony already has the advantage in strong-performing internal studios. [Editor's Note: While ThatGameCompany has currently only produced games for Sony consoles, they remain an independent developer.]

Services

Ultimately, Microsoft banked on a future that most people don't care as much about: controlling your entertainment center with the power of your voice. For me personally, that's not a system seller; it's a novelty that only works perfectly 60% of the time and makes me want to use a physical controller every time it doesn't understand me. PlayStation, on the other hand, has focused on games.

And nowhere is that clearer than their subscription services. If you want to play online with either the PS4 or Xbox One, you'll need to pay a fee. But with PlayStation, you also get access to a library of free games. The offerings are significantly better on PS3 than PS4, but for a PlayStation owner, the service almost pays for itself. Compare that to Xbox's Game with Gold, which offers much older titles for the Xbox 360 and still doesn't have any option for the Xbox One.

And PlayStation is rolling out a service that will bring PS3 titles to the PS4. If the price is wrong, this will be a complete disaster, but the right mix of convenience, game selection, and price could potentially convince even more current PS3 owners to upgrade. Meanwhile Microsoft has talked a lot about integrating the cloud into their strategy, but they've has been quiet on any plans similar to Sony's that would give players access to their back catalog of 360 and XBLA games on Xbox One.

Performance

The general perception is that the PlayStation is more powerful than the Xbox One. Hardware-wise, they're not that different, but Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes developer Kojima says his game will look better on PS4. And there's been a lot of argument around games like Call of Duty: Ghosts that run natively in 1080p on PS4 vs. 720p on Xbox One. Of course, the Xbox can run games in 1080p and 60fps, but with multiple titles coming in with lower native resolution on Xbox, Microsoft's machine has been publicly perceived as less powerful. We saw with the original Wii that more powerful hardware doesn't necessarily affect sales negatively--but Nintendo also had an amazing slate of exclusive first-party games for their system (like Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, and Mario Kart Wii). But when the experiences and games are almost identical like on Xbox One and PS4, people will gravitate to what seems like the better system for the money.

And that brings up the biggest deciding factor: price--the PS4 sells for $100 less than its competitor. When the core experience is perceived as being about the same (or slightly in favor of the lower-cost option) the less expensive choice is going to win out. Microsoft has even already enacted a price cut on the system in the UK, and they're bundling free copies of Titanfall in current Xbox Ones. While I'm always happy when consoles include a great pack-in game (and I sorely miss the old Nintendo days when you could expect your system to come included with a game you definitely want to play), adding it in after the fact is basically admitting, "This system is too expensive on its own."

But having a clear second place contender is, ultimately, good for gamers. Microsoft isn't so far behind that they have to drop out, but they're far enough behind that it's a fight to keep up. And that struggle is what made the past year for the PS3 and the start of the PS4 so successful. If Microsoft's Xbox 360 hadn't pushed Sony to do better, the services, games, and pricing that Sony has in place now likely wouldn't be anywhere near as enticing and consumer-friendly--just remember back to how long it took the PS3 to integrate anything as good as Microsoft's multiplayer-friendly Live interface. And now Microsoft has to try and play catch-up, which means we're going to see big things from them in the near future.

And just in case you think I'm somehow insinuating that the Wii U's failure somehow spells the end of Nintendo, they're a company that has weathered far worse failures (see the GameCube and Virtual Boy). And I'd also remind you about a small money-printing machine called the 3DS. We're going to see big changes from Nintendo in the future as well, but that's an entirely separate article.

What Microsoft does now won't have an immediate effect on their place (though it may help staunch the number of people leaving their Xbox 360 behind to upgrade to a PS4). But we'll start to see the small effects of their bigger picture initiatives over the next year. And what better position could we be in as gamers than having a company like Microsoft bending over backwards to try and win more people to their system?

No matter what console you bought (or are going to buy), it's going to keep getting better and better to be a gamer.

Discussion

3419 comments
TheDanam
TheDanam

PlayStation forever. Stick to fixing your issues with Windows 8, Microsoft.

cherublvl99
cherublvl99

Games and Services is for Xbox One, All in One is great, it is recieving now the Twich app witch is way better thant the PS4 version, this is just an example of service that Xbox One offers better than PS4, despites that Xbox One has a big number of apps, much more than the limited PS4.


In games we have Halo 5, A New Gears of War, Fable Legends, Titanfall, Quantum Break, Sunset Overdrive and Plants vs Zombies just to start talking about, way better exclusives than the PS4's Infamous SS and The Order 1886. 


In performance the PS4 is the winner, but in a short time Xbox One will recieve the DirectX 12, witch will able the developers to make 1080p with 60 FPS constants in all games, so there will be no advantage for PS4, just the selling, why PS4 sell more? Publicity, popularity and mistakes commited by the concurrence, this is the reason that PS4 is winning the "console war", quality isn't the question really, Titanfall is here to prove it with the nice and clear 9 out 10.

raxel__uk
raxel__uk

My point is, once the dust has settled, both systems will roughly sell the same amount just like last gen.

raxel__uk
raxel__uk

Isn't the PS4 selling in 26 countries compared to the XB1's 13? The biggest market missing is the 2nd largest Japan!

VendettaEternal
VendettaEternal

Sorry another question. I heard that the ps4 can do voice activated stuff too but I am not sure how or if the equipment it came with can support that function? I mean siri doesn't understand me so I have little faith that it will work well for me, but I'd like to try. Thanks.

rhenom
rhenom

This is not rocket science. The PS4 is $100 cheaper and is more powerful than Xbone. No need to make videos and write long articles about it. That $100 is for Kinect that no one cares about and it's other big feature, multi-tasking people also don't care about.

VendettaEternal
VendettaEternal

I was just wondering can someone explain to me why the hardware in the PS4 is superior to the Xbox1 like in specific components and their functions. At first I was one the fence and inclined to follow my xbox inclination but after reading that the ps4 was more powerful ended up with that? Like without kinect and based on spec-spec component comparisons I guess, where does the difference lie? And how do those processors and RAM differences play out? I know this is kind a lot to ask so I won't expect a reply. If so though that would be cool. It was just a curiosity as it seems most articles don't elaborate on differences or to explain basics to less tech literate like me I suppose. Ends up sounding more like marketing hype on both sides of the spectrum. Overall a corporation is a corporation because it is a corporation and does what corporations will do..

gammagreen
gammagreen

Xbots...........  Do you understand anything about life? The PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One in MOST of the countries they are both sold in, INCLUDING THE US and THE UK which are Microsoft's biggest markets. Get your facts straight before you make an attempt at trolling.

Jd1680a
Jd1680a

I think price is the most important reason Sony is in the lead right now. Paying $100 less on a machine that could run the same games is a no brainier for some people.


Microsoft should consider cutting out the kinect and make it optional if they want to have a competitive chance.



BrianC6234
BrianC6234

The PS4 is more powerful than the Xbone. The big difference is the RAM. That 8GB of GDDR5 RAM is faster than Microsoft's 8GB of DDR3. Microsoft will always struggle to catch up just on that. It's why PS4 games are running at 1080p and Xbone games aren't.

teamvenompro
teamvenompro

lol your not a fanboy or anything, Or maybe it's because the PS4 is sold in 20 more countries than the Xbox One currently..lol

andrew_schelb
andrew_schelb

i never trust gamespot or gin for this. the both have sony's hard-on rammed down their throat. its a pretty fair fight right now people. ps4 is the game console with little to no games xbox one is the all in one entertainment console that has games. people will get what they'll get but the numbers are closer than that graph indicated. i believe both are in the 5 million range now

Aaronp2k
Aaronp2k

@cherublvl99  


The main conclusion here, is regarding graphics and performance anything xbox one can do ps4 can do it better. And that is a scientific fact.

Aaronp2k
Aaronp2k

@cherublvl99  a new api (directx 12) isn't going to suddenly make xbox one run better. All it means is they have access to more features like the latest shading technology and so on (the stuff ps4 already had all along). The performance will also be a little more optimised, probably squeeze out an extra 3fps when compared with directx 11. What it will not do is suddenly enable games to run at native 1080p, that is something only hardware can do. All it will do is provide you with slightly improved frame rates and a little better quality graphics. With that extra graphics quality though comes a price, the res will be even more likely to be 720p on most games.


Of course res isn't everything though, a 720p game can still look better than a 1080p game. But when you have the fact that ps4 has more shaders and higher memory bandwidth xbox one is just dead in the water. What is possible at 720p on an xbox one will be possible at 1080p on the ps4. Battlefield 4 is the only multi-platform game that hasn't managed 1080p, but they still managed to squeeze in 900p (still better than 720p) with higher quality graphics. 

thorps4
thorps4

@cherublvl99  wow, you really are in love with microsoft. but in reality i think your just being a blind loyal fanboy and i stopped reading after "way better exclusives, plants vs zombies."



noncasualgamer
noncasualgamer

Why isn't the ps4 selling well in it's own country? Why are they turning into a first person shooter machine?

cherublvl99
cherublvl99

@raxel__uk  - Meh! PS4 isn't selling a lot in Japan, there is some lack in the stock but isn't something so agressive like US and Europe.

mikz_nyc
mikz_nyc

@rhenom  It would be good if went back in the old days when gaming was gaming,not like in today's day where it's all nonsense with all those dumb feature,who needs  Netflix  or HBO on a gaming system when every tv since like 3-4 years ago has it installed in it or on the satellite/cable box,so stupid 

sparkie3222
sparkie3222

@VendettaEternal  a quick answer comes from here: http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/171440-how-is-the-ps4-smaller-lighter-and-yet-more-powerful-than-the-xbox-one


"What’s interesting is that, despite the PS4 and Xbox One having very similar hardware specs, their final designs turned out to be very different. If we boil it down, the only real hardware difference is that the PS4 has a 50% larger GPU, and thus higher peak power consumption. "


"In testing, Digital Foundry found that the Xbox One and PS4 have very similar thermal characteristics — in fact, rather than being significantly cooler than the PS4, the Xbox One’s case temperature is actually higher. During games, the Xbox One case temperature (directly above the CPU) was 49 degrees Celsius; the PS4 was just 44 degrees Celsius. The PS4 is slightly noisier under load, but you won’t notice the difference from more than a meter or two away (i.e. sitting on your couch). It would seem that all of that extra space in the Xbox One doesn’t serve much purpose."

VendettaEternal
VendettaEternal

Sorry didn't mean question mark at ended up with that. I do have a ps4, am not giving it up for adoption anytime soon.

Jd1680a
Jd1680a

@BrianC6234 Console gamers are suddenly caring what is under the hood. This is like the bit wars when with super nintendo, genesis and all the others when people go to their lunch and argue with their friends that 32 bit is better then 16 bit.


Majority of consumers buying a console for themselves isnt going to worry about the hardware. All they care about is the games, the stunning graphics and the price.

Dufflepud
Dufflepud

@BrianC6234  The PS4 performs better because of its GPU, not because of the RAM. The RAM is faster, yes, but that has barely any impact on gaming performance.

rickphoenixxx
rickphoenixxx

@BrianC6234

@BrianC6234 8gb of GDDR5 vs 8gb of DDR3 PLUS 32 mb of ESram, you meant to say. Proper utilization of the Esram(a pain to work with however so devs simply have not been using it)would bring the X1 nearly up to speed with the PS4 through a few tricks it can employ. Don't think the X1 will ever match a PS4 technically, but soon the differences will be minimal at best.
And heck even Killzone struggles with the superior unified GDDR5 setup- http://www.lazygamer.net/general-news/killzone-shadow-falls-multiplayer-is-sub-1080p/

gammagreen
gammagreen

@teamvenompro   Do you understand anything about life? The PlayStation 4 is outselling the Xbox One in MOST of the countries they are both sold in, INCLUDING THE US and THE UK which are Microsoft's biggest markets. Get your facts straight before you make an obvious attempt at trolling.

BrianC6234
BrianC6234

@teamvenompro I wonder whose fault that is? Sony is better at making hardware so they can get their console out to more markets.

jhebbel
jhebbel

@andrew_schelb  Actually PS4 is still outselling by a significant marfin (1.2 mil last credible story I saw), But I just have to point out; you are crediting XBOne as being an "all in one entertainment console" when it cannot even stream network media... I have to say this article is far less biased than you.

BestJinjo
BestJinjo

@Aaronp2k @cherublvl99  XB1 cannot physically overcome the fact that PS4's GPU is between HD7850 and 7870 in performance (32 ROPs, 256-bit GDDR5, 18 Compute Units), while XB1's GPU is more like an HD7790. The PS4's GPU is simply 25-50% more powerful depending on how shader and pixel intensive a game is.

http://www.computerbase.de/2014-02/amd-radeon-r7-265-test/3/

That's the gamble PS4 took. What's more impressive is despite a much faster GPU, the PS4 has a built in power supply and costs $50-100 less!

Aaronp2k
Aaronp2k

@noncasualgamer  wii u is really popular in japan, that will be why ps4 isn't selling so well. don't expect xbox one to do any better, I heard last gen that xbox 360 did shockingly bad in japan.

cherublvl99
cherublvl99

@mikz_nyc @rhenom  - So it would be good if went back in the old days when telephones was telephones? When MP3 was MP3? When sms was letter? When TV was just TV? Man, things evolve, you need to follow the tecnology, you have all this stuffs in an iPad? Yeees, so if an iPad can have this, why a console can't? Why you need to move off the console to acess this stuffs? Silly.

VendettaEternal
VendettaEternal

@sparkie3222 @VendettaEternal  Thank you. I noticed my ps4 started running super loud for a few minutes and heating up like my x360 does and it freaked me out. Ive been trying to keep it dust-free and with enough ventilation, but still it happened. Maybe if I use it less will that help? 

teamvenompro
teamvenompro

@jhebbel I'm guessing you don't go by facts?? The PS4 is being sold in far more countries currently than the Xbox One, Not sure if you understand that point..lol

kenny406
kenny406

@jhebbel  You absolutely CAN stream networked media to the Xbone.  At the moment you just have to use the "play to" feature to push it from your PC to your Xbone.  It works quite well, and plays most common formats (.mkv's are the only ones it won't play--but that's no different from most other consoles or streaming devices).  

Redrivar
Redrivar

@Aaronp2k Xbox has been considered complete refuse in Japan since the original.  I'm not totally sure why, but the original xbox has never held more that a ~10% marketshare in japan in any generation.


I mean shockingly bad, like the ps2 outselling xbox 360 as recently as 2008, even older systems like gameboy color and super snes often outselling the xbox on a month to month basis.  


I can see why they wouldn't want to waste their time selling there. 

AS for the PS4 sales being lower at the moment in Japan, the Japanese don't hugely flock to new system releases as much as they do games.  

The market there really favors keeping the old systems alive for a loonng time.  They def do not live by the 7 year generation cycle.  for example, the wii and the 3ds have outsold everything else hand over foot in monthly analyses in Japan.

Geogyf
Geogyf

@cherublvl99 

Sometimes options are good, but you need to have specialized products.

jhebbel
jhebbel

@teamvenompro @jhebbel  And just so we all know the "facts", even if we look just at US sales, PS4 is vastly outselling XBOne.

jhebbel
jhebbel

@teamvenompro @jhebbel  Yes I do, and how does that invalidate my statement exactly? Does not change the fact that it is still outselling it does it? And who do you blame for Microsoft selling in less countries? Let me guess thats Sonys fault lol.


Don't come on here looking to troll.

thorps4
thorps4

@kenny406 @jhebbel  , mkv is a really common, popular video format, commonly used for anime files , and the x1 cant play them? thats pathetic. my ps3 happly streams mkv along with allmost every other file format i throw at it. like the guy below says, doesent sound like much of an all in one to me.

jhebbel
jhebbel

@kenny406 @jhebbel  It accepts DLNA streams, but cannot access a shared drive on a network to play saved content, 360 could do this at launch so not sure why the One cannot, but lacking such a basic feature that even baseline TVs can do now and days does not qualify this device as "all in one entertainment console" per my original statement.

Destiny More Info

  • Coming Sep 09, 2014
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • + 2 more
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Destiny is the newest franchise from Bungie and its ambitious successor to Halo. It is a first-person shooter with elements of open-world sandbox and persistent world where humans are up against an alien threat seeking to rid them of existence.