PS4 vs Xbox One: 3 Key Takeaways After 1 Month of Sales

It's been a month since the Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) Playstation 4 and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Xbox One were released. With the eighth generation of console gaming officially under way, let's check in on how the three top video game console manufacturers have been faring, and what it means for the players going forward.

Source:Bubblews.com

Console

Earliest availability (region)

Global units sold

Playstation 4

11/15/2013 (North America)

2.37 million

Xbox One

11/22/2013 (North America)

1.84 million

Wii U

11/18/2012 (U.S. & Canada)

4.49 million

Source: Vgchartz.com

The Playstation 4, which debuted a week earlier than the Xbox One, appears destined to finish 2013 on a high note. Meanwhile, Nintendo's (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) struggling console, the Wii U, surged 340% month-over-month in November thanks to the September price drop to $299 and the eagerly anticipated release of Super Mario 3D World.

Unfortunately for Nintendo, that boost might be short lived going into the critical holiday season. In a single month, Sony has already sold more than half the number of consoles that Nintendo was able to sell in an entire year.

Understanding the opinions behind the sales figures

According to new survey data provided by GameSpot Trax, it appears that the Playstation 4 is definitively beating the Xbox One in several key aspects.

GameSpot's survey consists of data from a CBS Interactive audience comprised of core gamers and early adopters, collected between Dec. 5 and Dec. 10. Let's take a look at three takeaways from the survey, and see what it all means for Sony and Microsoft going into 2014.

1. The Playstation 4 is converting more gamers than the Xbox One

First and foremost, Sony has been converting more former Microsoft gamers than the other way around.

 

Coming from PS3:

Coming from Xbox 360:

Coming from PC:

Playstation 4 buyers:

60%

28%

10%

Xbox One buyers:

10%

81%

8%

Source: GameSpot Trax

The most commonly cited reason for purchasing a PS4 was its lower cost of $399, compared to the Xbox One's $499 price tag. Gamers who purchased an Xbox One preferred the Xbox One's better selection of exclusive launch titles, such as Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising (ed. note: not Dead Island) 3.

It's notable that neither console has been very successful at winning over PC gamers, indicating that there could still be room in the market for Valve's upcoming SteamBox.

2. Games are still the most important feature

Before their releases, there was plenty of debate about the consoles' features.

The Playstation 4, Sony's cheapest console ever created (on an inflation-adjusted basis), initially appeared to be a more bare-bones experience. On closer inspection, however, the Xbox One isn't that much richer in features than the cheaper Playstation 4.

The Playstation 4 can't play audio CDs, MP3s, or stream media over a DNLA home network out of the box -- but Sony has promised that support will be added in a future software update. The Xbox One, by comparison, can perform all three tasks out of the box, although MP3 support is limited to streaming from a PC with Windows 8 installed.

Microsoft also added voice and Kinect gesture support to the Xbox One. Sony's additional PS4 camera ($60) adds voice command and facial recognition, although it currently lacks gesture support. However, Belgium company Softkinetic announced earlier this month that it will bring Kinect-like gesture controls to the PS4 via the PS4 camera.

In other words, the features that made the Xbox One more attractive at launch might not remain exclusive strengths much longer.

Microsoft's Kinect (top) vs. Sony's PS4 Camera (bottom). Source: Techradar.com

Despite all those bells and whistles, according to GameSpot's GameTrax 96% and 90% of PS4 and Xbox One users, respectively, use the console for gaming. Only 52% of PS4 users and 57% of Xbox One users report watching movies on their consoles.

Moreover, the data from GameTrax shows among buyers who recommended against purchasing an Xbox One, the Kinect and the $499 price tag were the top two reasons to not buy one. In fact, only 76% of surveyed users had used the Kinect, which was intended to be a key feature, on their new Xbox Ones.

By comparison, a lack of compelling launch titles and incomplete functionality were the two top reasons to not buy a PS4. Both those weaknesses could be rectified in the coming year.

3. PS4 buyers buy more games

Since the PS4 was sold at a lower price, Sony is counting on it to achieve a higher software attach rate than the Xbox One.

The PS4 reportedly cost $381 to make, meaning Sony only made $18 per unit. By comparison, the Xbox One cost $471 to make, giving Microsoft a $28 profit per unit. Therefore, the fact that PS4 gamers purchased one more game (27% more) than Xbox One gamers should be troubling for Microsoft.

 

Playstation 4

Xbox One

Games purchased

4.7

3.7

- Physical discs

2.4

2.6

- Digital retail downloads

0.5

0.4

- Digital-only games

1.8

0.7

Source: GameSpot Trax

Sony's key strength was in digital-only games, while Xbox One users slightly favored the older format of digital discs.

It's also interesting to note that of the top five games on the Xbox One, two were exclusive titles. Forza Motorsport came in at number 3 with 550,000 units sold, and Dead Rising 3 came in at number 5 with 440,000 units.

Of the top five PS4 titles, only one -- Killzone: Shadow Fall -- was an exclusive title. Killzone came in at number 2 with 790,000 units sold. The top game on both consoles was Activision Blizzard's (NASDAQ: ATVI  ) Call of Duty: Ghosts, which has sold 840,000 units on the Xbox One and 1.02 million units on the PS4.

That software attach rate will inevitably shift next year as new titles are released and more gamers upgrade to the two new consoles, but Sony has apparently gotten off to a more promising start.

Looking ahead into 2014

These early figures appear to favor Sony, but Microsoft's 1.84 million units sold so far shouldn't be taken lightly -- especially considering that both consoles haven't been fully launched worldwide yet.

In 2014, I expect that Sony's pricing strategy will continue paying off, and possibly force Microsoft to lower its price to remain competitive. We'll also see if Microsoft's clear attempt to take over the living room will work out any better than previous, unsuccessful attempts to merge computing with television. We'll also see if Valve's SteamBox, which is scheduled to arrive next year, can convert those PC users who don't appear interested in either the PS4 or the Xbox One.

What's your take on the battle between the PS4 and the Xbox One in 2014? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Read/Post Comments (25) | Recommend This Article (20)

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 December 21, 2013, at 11:16 AM, pbdrummer15 wrote:

    So....Microsoft making $10 more per console is what's keeping people from buying an extra game...Not the fact that it's an entire $100 more expensive then the PS4 and games are $60 each..

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 11:36 AM, yvito125 wrote:

    Dead Island 3? LMAO... try Dead Rising 3, SLICK.... C'mon man if you're going to write about games at the very least know the games..

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 12:07 PM, Ebby720 wrote:

    Since Microsoft prints money, and this is such a small infinitesimal part of Microsoft, they should have and should, slash the price to get people on the platform, sign up for Xbox Gold etc....they can afford to hurt Sony, if price is the issue, not the other way around. Sony prints loses.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 12:50 PM, TMFSunLion wrote:

    @yvito125 -- Thanks, my mistake. It's been fixed.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 2:45 PM, URALLFOOLS wrote:

    So? An article based off of a poll that cannot be taken seriously. Hence, an article that cannot be taken seriously. Using information from a poll that can be "manipulated" seems like a well thought out idea for an article. SMH.... Fools indeed.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 2:53 PM, PanzerWatts wrote:

    There's a little too much obsessing over these numbers. Sony is doing better, but both consoles are doing extremely well in historical terms.

    Furthermore, both companies managed to stay away from their heavy loss leading strategy of the last generation. I suspect this generation will be much more profitable for both companies.

    However, judging by the hardware, I suspect that the next generation will be showing up in the next 5 to 7 years, so both companies will have a shorter time to amortize their engineering and marketing costs for this generation.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 3:33 PM, DirtyRandy wrote:

    You made some good points in the article, however I doubt Microsoft will need to price drop once a little game called Titanfall drops this spring.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 3:45 PM, d93552 wrote:

    yvito125, learn how to read. It states that its Dead Rising 3 not Dead island 3. C'mon man! LMAO on you reading the article wrong and complaining about it.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 3:48 PM, QookieMonster wrote:

    You can no longer judge a gaming console by a console itself. One must take into account the online gaming network that's offerred by console makers. And Microsoft's Xbox Live is superior to Sony's PSN+ by leaps and bounds.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 4:08 PM, ChuyG wrote:

    @DirtyRandy, Titanfall isn't even xbox one exclusive. Titanfall is going to be release for PC and xbox one and xbox 360, but only the first one. The second title of titanfall is going to be available for PS4. I don't see any reason in why to buy xbox one. The only thing that xbox one has is TV integration something that I don't really care. First of all you need to have cable and the only thing you can do is voice command, nothing especial, for some reason the specs are lower. Xbox live can be little bit superior to the PSN, but the PSN give costumers free good games and huge discounts in new games. For me the PS4 wins and not because I am a fanboy, but because the console is better.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 4:37 PM, BIGFATSHADY wrote:

    Leo,

    Let me give you a tip since you obviously dont follow gaming news...Big mistake to use VGChartz for your sales data. Because that is where you got the 1.8 million XB1's sold figure. MS already annouced at least 2 weeks ago that they have sold over 2 million consoles. A quick google search will confirm this. VGChartz is so stupid that they didnt even update their numbers (which are poached from reliable sources like NPD) yet. The PS4 sales figure is just a guess. Thats all they do is guess then correct their wrond numbers after one of the companies make a official statement or when NPD releases numbers.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 6:53 PM, typicalGeek wrote:

    Wow - Leo you must really not understand how retail works. You state: "The PS4 reportedly cost $381 to make, meaning Sony only made $18 per unit. By comparison, the Xbox One cost $471 to make, giving Microsoft a $28 profit per unit."

    Are you kidding me? I very much doubt that stores are selling the consoles for ZERO profit. That being the case, the amount of money the respective makers are getting per unit is likely significantly LESS than the cost to build. And that's O.K. with both of them. The profits are made not in selling the hardware, but the software.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 7:44 PM, Keegs79 wrote:

    Most who cry about these articles don't like that their system of choice is getting beaten and those that love it is because of the article is stating their system is doing better than their rivals.

    Besides, there is casual gamers that will look at sales to determine what system will be more future proof. All systems though will still have their fair share of great games over the years.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 9:43 PM, cdkeli wrote:

    The author's conclusions from the statistics as listed (sans error bars!! and who is "GameSpot Trax" and why is their data reliable?) defy logic. I care for neither console and have far more important things to do than play mere games, harrumph!! However, it is decidedly evident that the data however gathered or marginally valid, is poorly if not outright inadequately interpreted despite sufficient numbers apparently allowing some conclusions to be drawn at this point in time. Evidently this must be the reason why this statistically amateurish article was published on a website known for its blinkered opinions.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 9:53 PM, RLLH wrote:

    2.37 million PS4's @$400 = $948 million sales

    1.84 million XB1's @$500 = $920 million sales

    2.37 million PS4's @$18 = $42.6 million profit

    1.84 million XB1's @$28 = $51.5 million profit

    Now tell us again why PS4 is doing so much better than the XBox1.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 10:54 PM, normgarry wrote:

    #1 The PS4's Playroom app is USELESS without the $60 camera. If SONY wasn't being CHEAP, they'd have factored it in with the console and brought the price to $459.99.

    #2 Motley Fool has no understanding of the video game market WHATSOEVER.

    The PS3 and Xbox 360 sold an equal number of consoles up till Nov 2013 at 80 million. Guess what: both of these systems will go through revisions and sell an even number of units as well.

    #3 I prefer XBOX 1. PS4's controller STILL sucks. Too small and that STUPID LIGHT is too bright in the dark rooms.

  • Report this Comment On December 21, 2013, at 11:52 PM, tisgrays wrote:

    Like, wow! simple math tells you Xbox is ahead since it has been out 1 week less than the PS4 and is just half a million behind. Real bias article here, obviously written by a PS fanboy!

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 12:27 AM, itsbob2013 wrote:

    I'm a long time Sony fan and customer but after reading that they removed USB drive functionality and all media playback except for Netflix and Sony-approved services I've made the decision to either skip this console gen or just get an XBox.

    It was a disgusting, greedy move by Sony that actually prevents people from enjoying a lot of legitimately owned movies as well. I have several movies that were sold with a USB digital copy and I've lost at least two of the discs so now to watch them on my PS4 I'd have to pay for them AGAIN? Yeah no thanks Sony, sorry piracy is such a problem for you but insulting your customers with these greed centered policies isn't the way to combat piracy.

    It's probably even less than a drop in the bucket for you but unless these features are added in the near future you've lost $400 from me and a customer of 14 years.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 1:54 AM, swingrick311 wrote:

    Wow cdkell seems to be a genius with all of those overused lengthy words.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 2:25 AM, jcarter805 wrote:

    18$ per unit times 2 million units sold so far....do the math.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 2:47 AM, pepper123n wrote:

    lol you guys are forgetting the most important calculation. Games

    4.7 * 60 * 2.37 mil = 668.34 mil ps4

    3.7 * 60 * 1.84 mil = 408.48 mil x1

    Its not even close sony is killing it.

    The sales of ps4 is only 6% of the total profit

    The sales of x1 is roughly 12%

    Anyone with half a brain would focus on the selling of games. That is why these companies price the console so cheap. They realize the big money is made in the games

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 10:24 PM, MicrosoftFreak wrote:

    Xbox One has voice commands and superior technology. The only way that Sony is ahead of Microsoft in sale prices is that they released the ps4 one week earlier. When it is Christmas time the Xbox sales should rocket sky high.

  • Report this Comment On December 22, 2013, at 11:58 PM, ComeOnNow78 wrote:

    I have neither one right now. I have not made a decision on which one to get. Went into Target tonight and they had three XBox1's sitting on the shelf with less than 4 days until Christmas and the PS4 had none available. I would think this close to Christmas you would not see three units sitting on a shelf though.

  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2013, at 2:38 AM, Bunnyking77 wrote:

    What I find interesting is that even with double the consoles sold the Wii U will not have DLC for Call of Duty, yet again.

    I really like my Wii U, but I don't think I will be buying any third party games besides the ones that offer full support, I can buy them on the PS4 if I want full support. Activision should either support the Wii U with DLC or just not make the games that lack support.

  • Report this Comment On December 23, 2013, at 5:00 AM, Amievil wrote:

    @d93552,

    about 5 comments earlier than yours the author (leo) sun lion admits he messed up and edited the article (which is why it said what it said)

    so maybe you should learn to read...all the comments before you add your 2 cents.

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