Xbox One vs PS4 Sales: Who's Winning the Console War So Far?

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Being able to post sales in excess of 1 million units within the first 24 hours that a product is on the market is an impressive feat. Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) wasted little time in announcing that its PlayStation 4 had done just that, leading some to believe that it had claimed an early lead in the battle for the living room being waged by the new generation of gaming consoles. Now that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) has released the Xbox One, and, its Day One figures were strikingly similar.

It seems that in the eyes of consumers, the two consoles may be a bit more evenly matched than some people expected. As with most things, though, there's more to this than just the numbers.

All is not as it seems
When taking a closer look at the launch sales for the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, an interesting fact emerges. The 1 million PlayStation 4 units sold in the first 24 hours were all sold in North America, while the 1 million Xbox One units sold came from a 13-territory release that included North America, Brazil, and much of Europe.

So what does this mean? Despite a strong launch for both consoles, the PlayStation 4 could be considered the launch-day "winner." It took 11 more countries for Microsoft to match Sony's numbers, though it's unclear as to exactly how much of the Xbox One's sales came from territories outside of the United States and Canada. Microsoft made sure to let people know that its consoles were largely sold out at retailers to stoke the image of the console being in demand, though one has to wonder if there would have been a sales increase if more units had been in stock.

Comparing the consoles
Prior to the release of the two consoles, there were a number of comparisons regarding the power of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. There is a bit of back-and-forth when looking at the specs for the two consoles, with the Xbox One having a faster CPU (though only six of its eight cores are available for game use) and higher GPU clock speed, while the PlayStation 4 has a better overall GPU (for about 50% more graphics processing power than the Xbox One.) The PlayStation 4 also features faster memory, giving it approximately 2.5 times the memory bandwidth of the Xbox One despite having the same amount of RAM overall; this could potentially be made up for by efficient use of the Xbox One's embedded SRAM cache, however.

In a strict comparison like this, the PlayStation 4 comes out as the better console of the two and is priced $100 less to boot. Things get a little murkier when you start looking beyond just the core stats of the systems, though. Each console will have its own exclusive games, and there will be non-game exclusive content as well, such as original streaming TV offerings from Microsoft (including a "Halo" TV series produced by Stephen Spielberg ). Both Sony and Microsoft are looking to expand the reach of their consoles beyond just games, with Microsoft making the biggest strides in this direction through SkyDrive integration that will more closely tie the Xbox One in with Windows PCs and Microsoft's cloud features.

Do the numbers matter?
There are a few problems with the idea that monitoring the launch of these consoles will give some sort of insight into which company will "win" the new console generation. Just look at the last generation; Nintendo's Wii console was the hands-down winner in console sales for most of the generation, but the actual "competition" in the generation was between the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.

Comparing numbers like these looking for an early winner also makes the assumption that there is a finite number of consumers who will only buy one console or the other. Many people choose to buy multiple consoles over time, especially once prices start dropping; those who bought a PlayStation 4 might buy an Xbox One later, and the Xbox fans may pick up a PS4 once more exclusive games are available. Some consumers likely bought both already. That's not even getting in to the number of people who buy multiple consoles just to resell them for a profit online; there were at least 10,000 PlayStation 4 consoles sold on eBay on the release weekend alone.

Both Sony and Microsoft have made a lot of noise about their Day One sales, but in the end these numbers won't really matter that much. They are impressive, yes, but more data is needed to really determine the success of the consoles. Sales will overlap, problems will arise, and the quality of exclusive games and other content will do more to make or break the consoles than day-one sales figures.

While the PlayStation 4 could very well go on to "win" this generation, calling the generation for either company at this point would be like declaring someone the winner of a marathon based on his first few steps.

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Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 12:27 PM, JaredM80 wrote:

    Over one million PS4's in 24 hours to two countries and on million xbox one's in 24 hours to 13 countries. no matter how you try to spin it or look at it Sony is the clear winner. and they still have more countries to ship to. not to mention black friday is coming up and Christmas shopping needs to be done.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 1:25 PM, ConvinceMe wrote:

    Comparing apples and oranges just to make it look like the XB1 is at par in the race. That's extremely poor journalism.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 1:56 PM, jociego wrote:

    This article does not mention that all of xbox one inventory was offered in 13 countries while all of day one inventory was offered in one natione.

    what this means is that 13 nations were off to the races to get all of day one's from MS. If they offered it only in the USA, then they would have had the same result.

    It's a matter of common sense, because the xbox one can do much more considering the Kinect is also part of the purchase.

    the Kinect system is really a great idea, for instance while im playing nfs rivals I just bark out commands and the game does them or when I walk into the room I yell out "xbox on" my cable system, bose system and tv come on. I get the same result when I yell "xbox turn off".

    There are more features that will be implemented as time goes on. i'm sure when sony is ready to introduce the move bundle the will change the same or even more for the features.

    MS is way ahead in the lead when it comes to XBOX One feature. PS4 is not even close

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 1:59 PM, jociego wrote:

    "This article does not mention that ALL of xbox one inventory was offered in 13 countries while ALL of day one PS4 inventory was offered in ONE nation."

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 2:32 PM, shearxear wrote:

    Really love how people say the Xbox wold not have sold all one million systems if they had launched in just the U.S. and Canada. Boy, good thing you "know" what would have happened. They, of course, could be correct, or could be completely wrong, so why even act like you know? Please stop this juvenile nonsense and give it a year or two before acting like selling one million systems matters in the long run. And really, if Sony sells a few million units more (even ten million), then MS really isn't "losing" all that badly if they are making money off their system.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 4:21 PM, jav929 wrote:

    I'm from Philadelphia (where mostly PS players reside) and I remember a few months ago reports stated that PS4 pre-orders out beat Xbox One pre-orders by a 500,000 units, therefore PS4 was declared the winner. How was that possible when GameStop, BestBuy, Walmart, etc..., sold out of Xbox One pre-orders? I had to go to a Microsoft store, which is out of the Philadelphia (King of Prussia) to finally get a pre-order an Xbox One. By the way, the MS store was no where near the size compared to most MS Stores in other states. It was a rented cart in the middle of the #2 biggest mall in the States promoting 6 to 8 MS devices around it. The Philadelphia region definitely holds the upper-hand when it comes to the PS, but there where many Xbox fans within the region told that Xbox One was sold out by the stores I earlier listed. Many Philadelphia Xbox fans had to pre-order the Xbox by phone or through the MS store. I asked a GameStop employee that favored the PS4 how was the Xbox One pre-orders sold out in the region the same day reports online stated Xbox One only sold 700,000 pre-orders and PS4 sold over a million, which made many PS fans feel victorious. With a stupid look in his face his only answer was that MS didn't make that many units. LMFAO!!! Maybe this is the answer to why the Xbox One sold in 13 countries to PS4 only selling in 2 countries. The States has its PS4 and Xbox regions, therefore PS4 selling more in the states than the Xbox One doesn't mean the 13 countries that bought Xbox One's are the reason for Microsoft's success. MS clearly stated in their presentation that they upgraded from 3,000 server to 300,000 servers and that they were focusing on delivering the Xbox One to other countries. Sorry Sony fans, but nice try.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 9:32 PM, jt3z wrote:

    The Consoles are pretty close in terms of what they can do(With the slight edge to Sony) But i believe its the games that is making the difference. IMO Xbox has always had better exclusives. Plus the Xbox has the Kinnect which a lot like but i am a little annoyed that they are basically forcing you to buy it but nonetheless its pretty even with these 2.

  • Report this Comment On November 27, 2013, at 2:50 PM, durbman187 wrote:

    Both sold out from what I am reading xbox did while costing a hundred more which is impressive in these times. But if the rumors I have heard are true. Microsoft has a huge advangage going into Black Friday. I dont believe it but it may be possible. This review turned who sold more consoles day one into a huge fiasco. agreed waste of my time. My advice is come back on 2014 nov 22 and look at the data then. thousands upon hundreds of thousands of people learned last gen to wait the bugs, the dual gen graphics, hardware issues (which Is my belief on both systems could be shipping and handling issues rather than true hardware issues) and constant software updates to run its course. maybe even get a v2 of this gen of the consoles. Sony got more tallies, they won day one. the real test is year one!!! Day one is merely fanboys and speculation of what they have seen. Year one is torturous testing of the consoles by gamers, their family and friends, and gamers from the other side of the coin and making a dicision on one or the other, both or none. Basing that decision on physical real eperience and interaction. Year one will give us a better understanding of who has the better product and will stand the test of time!

  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2013, at 5:33 PM, Alrightxboxone wrote:

    The reason why Xbox One didn't sell as much as ps4 is because?

    1. A lot of people were trying to save up money for the console because,you know xbox one was 100 dollars more so as soon as people got money to get one of those consoles they got the ps4 because it was cheaper and they were going to get the xbox one later on soon as the price dropped.(didn't have the money)

    2. Most people didn't want to stand in the long lines or didn't want to order because of bugs or the possibility of being broken when they get it.(afraid of day one consoles)

    3. And some people are waiting on more game releases on ps4 and xbox one.(need more games)

    I think you should buy the xbox one because they have more features than ps4 also more games and better games than ps4. The only reason ps4 cost 100 bucks less is because it doesn't come with it's camera that cost 60 dollars and kinnect is worth more than the ps4s camera. Think about it?what are you going to buy.

    P.S: Some people buy both for both experiences.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2013, at 11:15 PM, Ytys65 wrote:

    Hahahahaha. You Xbox guys are so funny.

    1. Read the news sometimes, I think this is why the Xbox players have calmed down they last couple of days. PS4 just broke the record for sales in the UK selling 100k more units than Xbox. Sony sold 250k units as apposed to 150k units that Microsoft sold. Breaking the previous record of the psp system (also set by Sony) and honestly what would you rather have a ps vita the worlds best handheld device or an app on your iphone (Xbox smart glass), think about it.

    2. The only thing Xbox people say is that they have the kinect and it's the best thing in the world, but would you die if you couldn't say Xbox on or use other voice commands which is really what microsofts main advertising point for it was. Think about it, kinect voice commands and seri, kind of the same things (well in my eyes they are) right. How many times have you seen people use seri for other than asking dumb questions or messing around.

    What would you rather have, the futuristic sleek design, unsurpassed graphics (and don't leave out Sony's partnership wth gaikai which will bring tons of cool new features in the next year with its cloud technology, look it up), or a box with mediocre launch games worse graphics and a kinect that lets you do what the wii has been doing for the past 6 years.

    We'll just see who wins.

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2013, at 10:03 PM, YesMan69 wrote:

    I think the xbox is winning considering the revenue it is bringing in is $200 more per unit and their cost of goods is under $275 (not including shipping) but in terms of potential market growth PS4 can only go up…

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