Xbox One and PS4 sales numbers don’t matter right now (but you don’t care)

Editorial: Microsoft and Sony are going to toss out a lot of numbers over the next couple months. They're fun to follow, but they don't mean much (yet).

by

We’re in a war of numbers.

But sifting through all the noise, these numbers don’t really mean anything. Not yet anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re big, impressive numbers for consoles that aren’t even a month old. After all, Nintendo’s Wii only sold 600,000 in its first week, and the PlayStation 2 only sold 500,000. But nobody is arguing that those consoles weren’t incredibly successful.

All those numbers really mean is that Sony and Microsoft have been more prepared for consumer demand than at any previous console launch. If more consoles were currently available for either system, they’d sell even more.

Sales numbers are meaningless for determining how “successful” either console is until after supply starts to surpass demand. Until you can walk into a store and pick one up. At that point, you’ll get objective numbers, minus the spin, and the popularity contest winner will be revealed.

But you probably already know that it’s going to be the PS4.

Going over the results from data provided by the market research portal GameSpot Trax, you can see a clear preference for Sony’s console among general gamers. In a series of surveys over the last year where respondents were asked to rate their likelihood to purchase either an XB1 or a PS4, here were the results. Although both consoles were relatively close around this time last year, the gulf widened considerably as we approached launch.

And while respondents who definitely will not purchase a PS4 have declined slightly, the number who do not want to purchase an XB1 rose constantly until August.

In a separate, completely unscientific survey of retailers I’ve talked with over the past couple weeks, they all told me the same story. XB1 and PS4 are both sold out, but the PS4 sells out immediately, while the Xbox stock tends to hang out for at least a few hours.

None of that means Microsoft isn’t going to be successful or even that the sales between both consoles won’t be relatively close. But just like the Xbox 360 lead sales for years in the US, the PS4 is probably going to stay just ahead of the XB1.

Does that really make a difference, outside of message boards and comments in stories like this one? As long as both consoles are selling at least decently, the actual number shouldn’t matter, should it?

Both the PS4 and XB1 have a similar lineup of games, and they’re both going to get the same wide-range of third-party support. They both have their own specific launch hardware problems. The real difference comes down to personal preference.

If you prefer Microsoft-published exclusives (e.g. Halo, Fable, Forza) and want a Kinect, XB1 will make you happy. If you prefer Sony’s games (e.g. Uncharted, Killzone, Gran Turismo) and the PlayStation Plus subscription benefits, PS4 is the way to go. That choice isn’t going to become moot just because one console sells more than the other.

And even a successful launch isn’t a strong indicator of future success. The Wii U sold over 3 million in its first month, but the console has underperformed in sales. I don’t regret buying a Wii U at launch, but I also know that there are a lot of games that will never make it to Nintendo’s system.

So why do we care about these numbers, even if they don’t mean anything? Like film box office numbers, it’s just fun to see how sales numbers play out and how our own preferences compare to everyone else. When our biases match up, we get to feel validated. And when we’re in the minority, everyone else sounds like an idiot.

Discussion

983 comments
moesuir
moesuir

"The Wii U sold over 3 million in its first month" so as long as nobody buys a PS4 or Xbox One in the next 20 days, the Wii U will be the ultimate winner!!!!

Biotasticmeat
Biotasticmeat

Xbox One is going to have amazing exclusives ( Which is part of the reason I bought one) Once those get under way and maybe a price cut or two, Xbox One will be selling far more than the PS4.

asdfen09
asdfen09

I am buying a new video card for my pc and avoiding both consoles unless amazing exclusives appear that I wont be able to play otherwise.

DarkNeoBahamut
DarkNeoBahamut

Well, numbers do matter, look at the Vita and WiiU, they are receiving poor third-party support because of their low numbers. 

Something similiar happened betweent the PS3 and X360, the PS3 released really behind the X360, and got bad third-party support in the beginning (crappy ports, lossing exclusives, etc). Sony had to put a lot of effort to change their numbers and make PS3 relevant. So numbers, in one way or another, do matter they affect the users too not just the company.

ajaychitown
ajaychitown

How can people say the numbers don't matter right now. PS3 and Xbox 360 cut even at 80 million at the end of last cycle. Lets say at the by the time PS4 launches in Japan and has a 2 million lead over Xbox One and at the end of this generation Xbox One finishes with 78 million and PS4 has 82 million ( with the 2 acquired from Microsoft ) how could that not matter in the grand scheme of things. Sony's 2.1 million at launch is more than 1% of their total life time sales from last gen. Every unit counts.

mt_dew_
mt_dew_

The ps4 is cheaper so why would it be a surprise if it sells more?  It's surprising that the numbers are as close as they are. Both are selling just fine and will continue to do so but like the article says, some people just need to feel validated or superior in some way. 

Lykanthropie
Lykanthropie

the numbers in a few weeks or mounths will say more about how good the systems are selling.


the new consoles dont have any god games right now, its more or less the same problme the wiiu had, best reasons to buy one might be some 3rd party games in the next mounths, but the new consoles dont have the best hardware and buyin a PC might look the better option to buy for many reasons.



BradBurns
BradBurns

I think that early sales numbers can mean a lot, actually. 


For all of the name recognition that the Xbox brand had, and all the negative sigma the PS3 gave the Playstation brand, the XboxOne still only managed to sell a million consoles when you take the entire first world into account.


The PS4 managed to sell better than the XboxOne in the US alone  (I include Canada, since it basically functions as a US state). If you include the later EU releasd, its sales double. Not to mention that it was the fastest selling console in some parts of the EU.


I think these sales can be important because they tend to show which console will be accepted as the "normal" one, and which will treated as the second fiddle (a la Xbox360 and PS3).


That can affect the way the rest of the gen plays out. Though, early sales numbers can be very misleading. The Wii U sold incredibly well it's first month and then faded away.

jvial
jvial

It doesn't matter how you dice it, the fact of the matter is that the PS4 is outselling the X1, but does it really matter?  I could care less who ends up outselling the other, i am still getting an X1... but that is until there is a slim version of that VHS & power brick monstrosity.

skeet1964
skeet1964

FYI, Vgchartz recent Worldwide sales numbers for week ending Nov. 30th:

- PS4:  955,435

- PS3:  486,702

- XB360: 480,696

-XB1:  401,035

-Wiiu:  274,179

PS4 sold more than double the XB1 from Nov. 23 to Nov. 30th.  That's impressive even with a supply shortage.  In Europe, PS4 is clobbering XB1!  For this same week PS4 sold 708,354 units in Europe compared to 56,909 units for XB1, more than 12x.  Wow!

For worldwide total sales up to Nov. 30th:

- PS4:  2.1 mil.

- XB1:  1.6 mil

- Wiiu:  4.4 mil

- PS3:  80.9 mil

- XB360:  79.7 mil

- Wii:  100.6 mil

Gopstop2222
Gopstop2222

xbox is all about tv/entertainment/kinect and ONLY than about games...while ps4 is ALL about games

Stesilaus
Stesilaus

Let's face it: Kinect has ruined the Xbox brand.


Microsoft hobbled the Xbox One with cheaper, lower-bandwidth memory just so that they could offset the cost of bundling the goddam Kinect gimmick with the console.


I wonder if that twit Ballmer had a hand in pushing Kinect for the Xbox One.  I can just imagine him skipping on a stage, chanting:


"Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!  Kinect!"


maybock3000
maybock3000

I'm just not impressed with Next Gen right now. Maybe when Destiny comes out I might get interested. For now I just bough Juno First for my Atari 2600..... Oh yeah.... Retro baby!

JSusie
JSusie

So the numbers don't matter.


Someone needs to relay this information to Eddie.

chieflion
chieflion

i hated the end of the south park trilogy, 

just cuz xboners won, but whatever they decided they wanted to play outside anyway

if ps4 won, then they would still be playing


slainta
slainta

The PS4 sold more than 1 million consoles in NA on the launch weekend

The Xbone sold less than 800k consoles in NA on the launch weekend


The PS4 sold about 250K consoles in UK on the launch weekend

The Xbone sold about 150K consoles in UK on the launch weekend


The PS4 has taken the two major X360 market out of hands of MS. That's all it really matters. 

lizardlava
lizardlava

Awesome article. However, Does anything really "matter"?

SSJMonkey
SSJMonkey

...I was so confused reading this... it's so rare that I read an article on the internet written with intelligence... just feels weird, lol...


(seriously though, good stuff, Mr. Haywald)

cws3e
cws3e

I think the numbers matter to MS and Sony.

quickshooterMk2
quickshooterMk2

idk but the PS4 still has region lock 


you still can't reedem US codes you bought from amazon on a EU account 


steambox is still my #1 option 

padako
padako

Danny is such an xbox fanboy it is disgusting. I love how wii u sales figures came in and look really great right after he put up that video about the wii u failing. what a d-bag.

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

The console industry is dying.....hate to point that out...but theres less compelling reason to buy one with every new Technology that gets released

grove12345
grove12345

@Biotasticmeat I want the XB1 to succeed but i dont see them having too many exclusives. Sony has the better hardware upfront. Meaning devs can do more with less work. Plus Sony has Eastern developer support. So JPN will be releasing games for PS4 as well. Though despite popular believes 360 did have more top notch JPN RPGs than PS3 did during the early years.  

erik_r_nelson
erik_r_nelson

@ajaychitown How does it actually matter, though? How did Microsoft's win (by a hair) last generation matter at all? Aside from inflaming fanboys? What did that give Microsoft, practically speaking? Everyone keeps asking how it can't matter, but I've seen no reason to think that it matters at all.

hairdie
hairdie

@mt_dew_ that not true .we are talking about early adopters they dont care if one is a bit more expensive that the other they just want it cos its new thats it!

erik_r_nelson
erik_r_nelson

@BradBurns How exactly would it affect the way the rest of the gen plays out? If PS4 was outselling Xbox 2-1, maybe developers would consider cutting cross-platform development. But the sales difference isn't that much. The differences in development processes for Xbox 360 and PS3 were significant. They're less so this generation--cross platform games are going to be far more similar this time around. I doubt either console will be truly a second-fiddle this time around. We won't know for a year or so, but by then both consoles will have sold enough to guarantee continued game development. We'll likely end up with the same situation we did this time--one console having a consistent lead most of the generation, only to end up with sales largely identical.

BradBurns
BradBurns

@jvial


I personally hope that the Xbox is second this time around. 


I like the Xbox One, but the company that's attached to it is very cynical, to say the least. They pretty blatantly stated that they want to condition people to view paying for every little thing (nickle and diming) as normal. That's not me stating that, it's their business strategy. 


I don't think that specific policy, or all of their other anti-consumer policies are good for the average person. I find them abusive.


Also, they didn't seem to have invested very much money into the console itself. The specs aren't too good, and it's very bulky.

motopram
motopram

@skeet1964 That window includes the  PS4 launch worldwide, most those numbers were pre-orders. Go back one day to the 22nd and the numbers will be a lot closer.

FadeToBlack90
FadeToBlack90

@Gopstop2222 I don't get this argument. It's still a gaming console, that has some extra features. Yes they are going for a home entertainment gaming system, but gaming is still going to be the dominant use. You're still going to get all the huge 3rd party titles, and all the 1st party titles, as well as tons of indie titles and arcade games.

Licurgo
Licurgo

@Stesilaus Yes! Exactly! I had both consoles for most part of this generation and up to 2010 I was a stronger defender of the 360. I honestly thought that the lineup was better, the interface, multiplayer, controller, etc.

Things gradually changed after kinectic, you just have to see the amount of exclusives for 360 before and after it. They actually didn't diminish that much, they simply drastically shifted towards kinectic. Maybe that resulted in more money for MS, but for the part that I'm concern (games), that piece of crap was an gigantic step back.

So far I just bought a PS4 and I don't know when I'm buying a X1, maybe next year or after a price drop. It's kind of sad, because the 360 was amazing and the competition between sony and MS made this generation one of the bests, if not the best (IMHO). Now MS is determined to shovel that gimmick down everybody's throat or destroy their gaming division trying.

MigGui
MigGui

@slainta for a weekend. this is a ten year "war". ps3 started WAY behind x360 because of price, lineup and being released one year later, but caught up and almost outsold its rival. microsoft just needs some time for the steam to cool down, and maybe some new successful exclusive IPs to level the game.

hairdie
hairdie

@lizardlava yeah the only thing that truely MATTERS is how did we get here? why are we here?.

mkdms14
mkdms14

@quickshooterMk2 Thats always been the case with downloadable content even on Xbox Live.  Game Discs are the only thing that are region free, movies and dlc are still region lock and will at least for now remain that way.

hairdie
hairdie

@ashleyjames389 but just wait till halo 5 alan wake 2 ,gears of war 5, garden wars, and fable 4 come out.oh wait but also god of war 5 ,grand turismo 7 ,heavy rain 2, uncharted 4, drive club, nino kuni 2,dark sorcerer , and journey 2

mt_dew_
mt_dew_

@ashleyjames389 and this benefits you how?  I guess you just need validation like the article says.  The ps4 SHOULD sell more because its cheaper.  Is it that hard to figure out?

FadeToBlack90
FadeToBlack90

@ashleyjames389 That's not really a fair statement to make. Both consoles are still selling at record rates, and even with the PS4 out performing right now, once price drops, different console packages, etc come out, there's no telling what the numbers will look like, especially 6 to 7 years from now.


Just look back at the PS3 sales around 2008/09. They were so far behind, no one thought Sony could catch up, but they did.

Talavaj
Talavaj

Christmas is coming and the Wii U is a present for kids that makes sense. That changes nothing on the fact that the console still massively underperforms and has no game library to entice third parties and new customers.

Tech-head
Tech-head

If it's dying, why are there record numbers of sales?

grove12345
grove12345

@erik_r_nelson @ajaychitown of course it matters look at WiiU. No one wants to support that due to low sales. I mean so many big name developers refuse to give WiiU a second shot even.


Naturally XB1/PS4 are going to take the lead here and developers will support the obvious next gen winners. But what if those two consoles arent selling well and people go back to PC gaming. Reason why PC gaming has taken a back/lateral seat is b/c XB and PS2 and escpeically 360/PS3 have become so popular. While people may say PC gaming isnt dead...it sure as hell was more vibrant and dominating before consoles became so popular 

erik_r_nelson
erik_r_nelson

@hairdie @mt_dew_ I tend to disagree--a lot of these sales aren't to traditional early-adopters, but to holiday shoppers, ie., parents who are more interested in price than features (because they aren't the ones using the system). Price matters. Maybe not as much as it would later in the cycle with a price-cut, but it's definitely a factor. I think it's reasonable to think that the price difference has hurt Microsoft a bit in the short term, but probably not enough to account completely for the difference in sales.

Logan303
Logan303

I agree. It's like saying if Chevy puts cup holders in the Corvette then it's no longer a sports car, but if their competitor were to offer essentially the same car without the cup holders, then that company is truly devoted to performance. Ridiculous.

Stesilaus
Stesilaus

@Licurgo @Stesilaus I'm still hoping that Microsoft will relent and release a version of the Xbox One that ditches Kinect in favor of a decent memory arrangement.  It's not likely to happen, though, and developers who optimize their Xbox One game engines for the current memory arrangement probably wouldn't be happy if it did happen.

Stesilaus
Stesilaus

@MigGui @slainta What Microsoft needs to do is to release a Kinect-free Xbox One with GDDR5 memory, and to price it at $400 or less.


quickshooterMk2
quickshooterMk2

@mkdms14 @quickshooterMk2 i ain't going back to CD's 

i'm too spoiled from getting games in less then an hour and for much less 


and yes a i know DVD's are still region locked, which i think is dumb cause i can just see the movie on my PC with no bullshit what so ever 

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

1/2 Those Sales are from people reselling on Ebay. Many of the sales are from profiteers looking to make money in a shit economy the other half are cooked books

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

@grove12345 @erik_r_nelson @ajaychitown That's not what Erik meant I think. Microsoft selling more consoles gave it more money, but the result of MS having more money isn't visible on the consumer end. So thus, whether one sells more than the other doesn't matter. What DOES matter, is that all the consoles sell a lot. Microsoft and Sony's "console wars" are really just two companies helping each other make money.

MigGui
MigGui

@Stesilaus @MigGui @slainta no it doesn't. in a year or two there will be price cuts, and sure better memory would be better, but that won't be necessary to even the playfield. and kinect is here to stay, and I don't see why anyone would see it as detrimental. either you use it and like it, or don't use it and ignore it, but why demand a box without it?

hairdie
hairdie

@IanNottinghamX and the fact that people are paying upto 600 pounds for them for the basic one tells you? . that they only stopped real people getting hold of them thats all

clockworkengine
clockworkengine

Where a customer buys and what he intends to do with the purchase are only things that don't matter if you're not looking for the truth.

ZOD777
ZOD777

@IanNottinghamX No, they don't track individual sellers.  The sales numbers reflect units that have actually left a retailer's stock.  Whether or not the individual bought it to resell on Ebay or not, it still counts as one unit leaving the store's inventory.