Microsoft Lets Sony Go First

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) won the coin flip, but it's electing to let the other team have the first crack at running some offensive plays.

The software giant has established Nov. 22 as the release date for its Xbox One, exactly one week after Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) PS4 hits the stateside market.

We've known for months that Microsoft's new console will be available in November. When Sony announced that its North American release date will be Nov. 15 -- followed by a European rollout two weeks later -- it posed an interesting challenge for Microsoft.

Launching before Sony -- as it will in Europe, but not in the U.S. -- would've been ideal. The Xbox One is $100 more expensive than Sony's system, even though the PS4 does not come with the motion-based camera controller.

Another benefit to have hit the market during the first half of November is that Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: Ghosts goes on sale on Nov. 5. This will be the biggest game release of the season, and it would have been a strong catalyst for an Xbox One purchase if the system were available.

The good news, naturally, is that Microsoft won't miss the critical holiday shopping period. Late November is better than an actual delay. The Xbox One will be hitting stores a week before Black Friday. As long as there is an ample supply of both consoles -- and that may actually be the rare case this time around -- rolling out in late November won't necessarily be a deal breaker.

One can argue that being early is overrated, especially after Nintendo (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) fell flat on its face with last November's Wii U release. Nintendo moved just 160,000 units last quarter, forcing it into a price cut this month out of desperation. However, Wii U's shortcomings are unique to the system. The Xbox One's specs and software catalog that will be available at launch are superior to what Nintendo offered up last November.  

It still would have been encouraging to see Microsoft go first. The only benefit of going last is if Sony's PS4 is either scarce or the first wave of reviews are negative. Then again, the same two knocks would be just as deadly for Microsoft going second. 

It's going to be an interesting fight between the two new consoles. Gamers always love to see some spirited competition.

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