Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay had a surprise waiting for his team after Friday's practice. The outspoken football mogul had Xbox Ones waiting in the locker room for pigskin hurler Andrew Luck and all of his teammates.
Luck didn't seem to be on Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT ) side earlier this year. The company's Xbox One seemed to be in trouble, as it was introduced at a higher price point than rival Sony's (NYSE: SNE ) PS4 and with restrictive features that angered the gaming community before Microsoft relented. Rolling out a week later didn't help, and neither did Nintendo's (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY ) markdown of its poor-selling Wii U weeks before the Xbox One release. Then we had the defective systems, and Microsoft's slow response to correct the situation.
It's a kinder climate these days. Today marks a month since the Xbox One's retail release, and it's clear that Microsoft isn't repeating Nintendo's Wii U fiasco from last year. Sony sold more PS4 systems in November, but that was largely the handiwork of hitting the market a week later. Both consoles quickly crossed the mark of 2 million consoles sold, and now the real test for supremacy will come when we get December's data with the level playing fields.
However, even 4 million consoles -- and counting -- between the two platforms has to be an encouraging sign for the industry. Gamers could've easily been reluctant here. Sticker shock about the initial prices could've scared off potential owners, but the real setback could've been compatibility issues with the Xbox One and PS4. When Microsoft and Sony joined Nintendo by switching to AMD (NYSE: AMD ) chips, it meant releasing more powerful platforms that couldn't organically play older games. Would gamers show up, knowing that they couldn't trade in their older consoles to help raise money for the purchase?
They did, of course. Naturally, 2 million Xbox One owners or 2 million PS4 buyers won't be enough to overtake the larger Xbox 360 and PS3 user bases. It takes years for any console migration process to play out. This time around it may even take longer, given the compatibility issue. However, this is shaping up to be the holiday shopping season that the industry needed after three years of declines and last year's uninspiring Wii U launch.
It's not just the Colts team that's riding the success of the next generation of gaming platforms.
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