There was a time, in the middle of March, that sales figures for Xbox One and PS4 had shown that, in terms of weekly sales, the Xbox One had FINALLY come out on top of global sales. This prompted speculation that Microsoft’s flagship console may have reached a turning point in the console war.
So, could Microsoft sit back and watch their fortunes swell as the PS4 slipped into obscurity? Though it’s impossible to predict the future with 100% accuracy, a closer look at the sales figures suggested not.
At the close of business for the week ending 15th March, 2014, Xbox One had achieved global sales of a staggering 155,157 consoles over that seven day period. Compare that with PS4 sales 132,051 and you can see that Xbox One was comfortably ahead by over 23,000 consoles (figures from vgchartz.com). A comfortable margin, by anyone’s standards.
This was great news for Microsoft and the Xbox One brand, but it is also worth noting that this is the first time since the week ending 23rd November, 2013 (launch week for the Xbox One) that the console had come out ahead in weekly sales.
Additionally, this win in the sales column had come at a time when Sony acknowledged that PS4s were a little harder to come by and announced that stock should be more readily available by April.
Still, a win is a win and this certainly shouldn’t be overlooked, least of all by Sony who will likely be keeping a keen eye on what happened from here on in.
Whether this really was a turning point for Microsoft in this console war remained to be seen, but it was worth looking at what it took to get them to this point in the first place. If you had to try and sum it up in a single word, that word would be ‘Titanfall.’
Titanfall launched 11th March, 2014. In a number of territories, the release also coincided with a price drop for the Xbox One (at least a theoretical one: Xbox One with Titanfall for the same price as just the machine). This, undoubtedly led to the 108% sales increase week on week for the console in the middle of March.
An incredibly effective marketing tactic that successfully doubled sales of the Xbox One. It also raised two questions however: a) How possible will it be to replicate or sustain this strategy? b) Why did the global sales beat Sony’s machine by only 23 000 units?
As sales strategies go, releasing the one exclusive game everyone has been waiting for, at the same time as announcing a price drop, is a pretty good one. Guaranteed success, you would think. Unfortunately, it’s completely unsustainable. They can’t release a Titanfall or announce a price drop every week. Once the Titanfall furore subsides, what’s next?
While a 108% sales increase for the week is outstanding, it would have seemed much more impressive if they’d taken a significant chunk out of Sony’s sales for that week. As it is, PS4 sales dropped by 1%. A pretty insignificant figure. Furthermore, if you look back at the weekly sales figure for the whole of 2014, not only does PS4 come out on top, it has averaged over 150,000 sales every week since Christmas.
A more telling and informative situation emerged the following week. During that week, Sony also released a major exclusive title, InFamous: Second Son.
With the exclusives going head to head and both consoles becoming more readily available, a rather different picture was presented – and all suggestion of the big Xbox One comeback quickly subsided.
Figures for the week ending March 22nd showed that, supported by InFamous and marginally more console availability (though still not freely available in many territories), PS4 sales jumped by 67% to 220,349 for the week. Conversely, despite its biggest release being only a week old, Xbox One sales dropped by 27% to 112,513 units (incidentally, this was in third place behind the 3DS). During the Sony exclusive, Infamous Second Son launch, PS4 outsold Xbox One by over 107,000 consoles.
The future may not be so bleak for Xbox One however. Afterall, we are less than a year into a 7 year cycle of both consoles. The war is far from over. What’s more, with Microsoft unveiling the capabilities of The Cloud and the difference it could make to gaming capabilities, the tide could be set to change yet.
Richard is a father, teacher, gamer and writer. He believes that The Last of Us and Olli Olli 2 are the finest games ever made, feels that the StarWars Saga should only be watched in ‘the Machete order’ and once cleared Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in one sitting. Took him 20 hours, four cups of tea and a sausage roll. You can follow him on twitter @TLOUFactionsMP or @VigilanteSanta and view his occasional twitch outbursts on twitch.tv/spooklebeans.