The war between Sony (NYSE: SNE ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) for console gaming supremacy is just getting started, but the PS4 appears to be getting the better of the Xbox One during the early skirmishes.
A report out of Terapeak -- an e-commerce marketing analytics specialist -- dives into how the platforms fared during their respective debut weeks by diving into eBay sales data. The findings are pretty startling. According to Terapeak, there were 21,309 PS4 consoles sold on the leading marketplace during its first week of availability, 78% more than the 11,992 Xbox One units that were sold a week later.
Xbox fans can always argue that Xbox One units were possibly in shorter supply or that folks buying Microsoft's console decided to actually play it instead of flipping it in the secondary market, but then we get to another nugget in Terapeak's data. The PS4 sold at an average price of $589.16, or 47% above its $400 retail price. The Xbox One, on the other hand, fetched an average of $658.63, or a more modest 32% premium. In other words, both demand and supply favored the PS4.
Microsoft didn't do itself any favors earlier this year when it priced its system at a $100 premium to Sony. It also made things worse by announcing some pro-developer initiatives that didn't sit well with the gaming community. Microsoft backed away from most of those comments, but the damage was apparently already done.
Then we had the defective Xbox One shipments. Microsoft claims that it wasn't much of a problem, but my firsthand experience suggests otherwise. I was one of the unlucky recipients of a system with a defective optical disc drive. I was told to wait more than eight hours for tech support, and then advised that my replacement console would ship in two business days. It didn't. It ultimately shipped 11 days later, proving that Microsoft wasn't ready for the number of early adopters getting scorched here.
Naturally, one week doesn't dictate the victor. Nintendo (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY ) owned the early years of the last generation with its Wii system, but it was the Xbox 360 that was routinely on top in sales domestically for most of the past two years. It's so easy to give this round or at the very least this holiday shopping season to Sony, but we're still early. Most of the launch titles for both platforms have received mixed reviews, and that will improve in the coming year for both consoles. The same thing happened with Nintendo's Wii U launch 13 months ago, and it's in a better position now with a wider catalog of titles and a lower price.
Sony appears to be the early victor, but let's not buy a cake just yet. We'll have a clearer snapshot when NPD Group and other industry trackers release their December sales metrics next month. The November data will naturally be skewed because the PS4 hit the market a week earlier than the Xbox One. However, the real battle will happen come 2014 as new titles are released. Neither console maker is likely to follow Nintendo into a price cut next year, but that would really make things crazy if it happened.
Sony can snicker now, but the last laugh is still there for the taking.
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