Can the Xbox One Catch Up With the PlayStation 4?

A few months after the launch of the latest generation of game consoles, Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) PlayStation 4 is well ahead of Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Xbox One in terms of sales. The PlayStation 4 has been in the lead from the start, but the gap seems to be widening as Sony struggles to ship enough units to meet the massive demand from gamers. The PS4 is currently hard to find at stores, and Sony has stated that this situation will persist until sometime in April. Meanwhile, the pricier Xbox One has plenty of availability.

Source: Newegg.

Source: Newegg.

The latest numbers put the PS4 at 5.8 million units sold, 2.3 million more than the Xbox One's 3.5 million units. Can the Xbox One catch up, or has the PlayStation 4 cemented its status as the dominant game console of this generation?

Price matters, and so does quality
The PlayStation 4 costs a full $100 less than the Xbox One, selling for $399 at retail compared to $499 for Microsoft's console. This price difference is largely due to Microsoft's decision to include the Kinect motion-sensing hardware with every console, forcing gamers to pay extra for the peripheral. Microsoft's goal was to give game developers a reason to support Kinect, guaranteeing that every Xbox One console included the device. But the decision seems to have backfired, with the higher price driving gamers to Sony's console instead.

While the price is a big reason the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One, graphical quality may also be a contributing factor. While nearly every game released or announced for the PS4 runs at a resolution of 1080p, with most churning out 60 frames per second, the Xbox One has had trouble keeping up. One example is the best-selling Call of Duty: Ghosts, which runs at 1080p on the PS4 but only 720p on the Xbox One. Even Xbox One exclusives, like the soon-to-be-released Titanfall, haven't been able to hit 1080p.

While this may simply be the result of developers taking time to get used to a new console, and visually it may not even make much of a difference to most people, it certainly makes the PS4 look like a more powerful system. Couple that with a lower price, and it's no wonder that the PS4 is outselling the competition.

Titanfall could provide a boost
Exclusive games are the biggest differentiator between game consoles, and while each system has its fair share of exclusives so far, Microsoft has one of the biggest games of the year all to itself. Titanfall, set to release on March 11 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC, is poised to become one of the biggest games of the year, and it will almost certainly help drive sales of the Xbox One. The open beta for the game, which ran from Feb. 15 to Feb. 19, attracted around 2 million players, and Titanfall could end up being the first "must-have" game for either console.

Source: Microsoft

Microsoft is selling a Titanfall Xbox One bundle, which includes a copy of the game, for the same $499 that the console itself goes for, effectively giving the game away for free. While this bundle should help sell more consoles, it risks upsetting early adopters who bought the console in anticipation of Titanfall.

Sony has got some big exclusives of its own coming soon, so any sales boost for the Xbox One may be short-lived. Infamous: Second Son, an entry in the popular Infamous series, is set to release exclusively on the PS4 on March 21, and most other hotly anticipated games set to launch this year, like Watch Dogs and Destiny, are coming to both consoles.

The bottom line
Given the price difference between the two consoles, the PlayStation 4 is unlikely to relinquish its lead unless Microsoft cuts the price of the Xbox One, either directly or by selling a version without Kinect. The Titanfall bundle acts like a price cut to a degree, but with the PS4 having an advantage, at least for now, in terms of resolution, the higher price of the Xbox One is difficult to justify. Sony has a winner on its hands with the PS4, and it seems that the company is well on its way to dominating the living room once again.

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Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (1)

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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 March 04, 2014, at 9:18 PM, EddieEsco wrote:

    Its good to be a PS4 owner right now. The better console is rightly on top. LMAO, Has sold 3 million more than XB1, must be embarrassing to be MS right now. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fanboy I will pick up an XB1 when a cheaper version with no kinect is released or the price comes down to $400.

    MS screwed the pooch with this console. It will be lucky if it comes close to what PS4 will sell, from the looks of things as it is now.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2014, at 9:41 PM, GK15 wrote:

    I think if they can pull of a deal with cable companies for a subsidized XB1 at $99 or $199, everything will make sense and they will catch up to the PS4. If they do not, they may never catch the PS4. They may close the gap a bit eventually if and when they lower the price, but they will never truly catch and surpass the PS4 unless they can offer a super low price like $99 or $199.

    I will get a PS4 eventually as well, but for now I love my XB1. It's a great console, regardless of who has the higher overall sales.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 5:48 AM, thisistheslam wrote:

    Um, CoD Ghosts does not run at a native 1080p, fyi. Any investigation would reveal that. Sony is only outselling MSFT because MSFT haven't launched in all their intended markets yet and Sony launched in Japan with good success, though it was a side note compared to US launch. I don't understand the PS4 draw to be honest - it really isn't more powerful and is a box that will be tapped in 3 years but the Xbox One has cloud computing to push it further. $100 difference only caters to the cheapest buyers, but TitanFall will ensure a gap closure. Lastly, Kinect is awesome and will improve with a little time and should never be separated from XB1. I love its auditory and motion integration that isn't available really available for Sony. The XB1 will come down in price eventually, but it won't be at the omission of the Kinect. This early lead is superficial and the press need to get off this bandwagon and do more insightful pieces instead of cannon-fodder articles.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 5:52 AM, thisistheslam wrote:

    Bah my bad CoD is 1080p on PS4 I was thinking Battlefield for some reason. But CoD is a dead horse and isn't selling well. TitanFall will figuratively piss on the grave of CoD for the next year or so unless Activision learn how to publish a good game again.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 11:31 AM, stockwoodie wrote:

    I will NOT buy another Kinect. I have the first generation and I've tried the second generation. I will not be "forced" to buy a peripheral. I've been a long time XBOX owner, but I'm contemplating buying a Sony this time around. Get rid of Kinect, drop the price $100, and I'll buy and XO today. Or, keep ignoring a large consumer segment and maybe you won't have my business any longer.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2014, at 4:36 PM, RichC42 wrote:

    I think XO will have legs and eventually close the gap. Everyone wants the newer and better but I think PS3 owners are more eager to upgrade right away. I believe 360 owners are more content with what they have and willing to wait longer for all the bugs to be worked out and a possible price drop.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 7:12 PM, dduttonnc wrote:

    As far as sales who knows. But there's is one COMPLETELY REFUTABLE FACT:

    The ps4s hardware FAR outperforms the Xbox One, and NO amount of tweaking and patching by Microsoft can fix that

    Both have the same model GPU, but the PS4 has more shaders, computer units, etc. Granted it's clocked a bit slower than the Xbone's GPU, it's still 30-40% faster with benchmarks and games.

    Why do you think you see so many games on the Xbone at 720p and ps4 1080p? The xbone can't pull of 30fps @ 1080p on those games unless they sacrifice a bunch of DX 11 effects. On some games they do. Other's they don't

    The PS4s 8 Cores (Run at over 2.5Ghz)... xbone way down at 1.75... granted, for games, the gpu does most of the work, but the cpu is still needed for a lot of things. As long as developers start coding for 4-8 CPUs. This shouldn't make much of a difference between the 2 machines. However in THIS area, MS CAN patch the OS to drive the CPU speeds up to closely match the ps4

    RAM: Ps4 wins hands down

    Both have 8GB which is used for system AND video memory, here's the catch:

    Ps4: GDDR5 8GB used for system & video ram with about 4GB left for apps

    Xbone: GDDR3 8GB used for system AND video ram with about 3.5GB for apps (however the xbobe uses windows swapfile technology where the ps4 lacks a pagefile). Technically this would let a game use up to 6 or 7GB on the xbone

    GDDR5 is A LOT, and I mean a LOT faster than GDDR3, and MS tried to compensate with esram, and it does help, but not enough. Benchmark and actual gaming shows that it still doesn't get the xbone near GDDR5 performance.

    But both systems still have fast memory. A PC uses DDR for RAM and GDDR on the video card.

    In the end, the Ps4 will play cross platform games 30-40% which means more games at 1080p and more effects vs xbone

    As far as the OS/Interface: Xbone wins hands down. It lets you watch TV through it, It's more of a home media center. But the PS4s interface can EASILY be redone by sony

    Camera: The Xbone's camera system is hands down a better system vs the ps4. But either company can update them and release newer, better ones

    The way I look at the 2.. and I do own one of each.. is the xbone is a games, home multimedia solution... ps4 = pure, raw gaming

    Granted my Alienware PC with 16GB RAM and 3 GTX 780TIs running in Tri-SLI makes the consoles look like crap... but still.

    I sometimes like to game on my 85" DLP TV vs my PC with a 30" 2560x1600 monitor. It just depends on the game, and if I want more of a big screen, 7.1 surround.. basically be immersed in the game and it's world. That's what I get from console gaming... or if I want to play a game in all the beauty it's capable of (PC). Also some games are console EXCLUSIVES.. so I'm forced to play them on a console...

    but MS did do something SMART... most any Xbone exclusive game also gets a windows version.. but that's a no brainer.. PC based console running windows and DirectX... you barely have to do anything to port it to Windows.

    Ps4 games are a bit harder to port to the PC as they need to be: 1) recompiled for a new OS, 2) recoding done to change PS4 API to windows API calls,3) Change graphics API calls to DirectX. At least the ps4 is still PC hardware so no major recoding recompiling for a different CPU needed

    In the end, the new gen of consoles ARE PCS! :)

    AMD CPU

    AMD GPU

    PC MOBO

    etc. etc.

    Both are watered down PCs under the hood. Xbone runs a stripped down version of windows 8.1 and uses Direct X 11-11.2 for graphics and he PS4 uses it's custom OS, and I think OPEN GL/CL for graphics.

    Right now, the consoles play games as a mid range PC that would cost about $1000 to buy (and I mean only the case and everything in it.. not counting KB, mouse, monitor and anything external)

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 7:16 PM, dduttonnc wrote:

    One thing that CAN now be done, that consoles could not do in the past: HW updates/refreshes can now happen every 1-2 yrs vs 5-10yrs. Why?

    They are PCs! If the Xbone really starts to suffer because people are tired of playing games in 720 or tired of having visual options turned off to get 1080p, MS may update the systen

    They can call it the Xbox Two.. or simply, Xbox One Rev B. .. that revision would have the CPU running at or faster than the Ps4, faster GPU, etc. Unfortunately, you would need to buy a whole new console...but you could copy all your data and settings to the newconsole

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2014, at 7:24 PM, dduttonnc wrote:

    It's not letting me edit posts.. as to why it's so easy to update the consoles...

    in the past, they were all proprietary. So developers would have to get new tools, and do a lot of work for a new gen console.

    Not so any more. If Xbone Rev A and B exist, then they code the game normally, the game then checks to see what version of the xbone it's running on and enabled more effects and./or high resolution with decent fps.

    .. and the ps4 can do the same thing.

    IMO.. that's why I Think we will see console refreshes on a 3 yr cycle - the same as a gaming PC... If you have a gaming PC, after 3 yrs, you need to at LEAST put in a new GPU. (I'm talking mid range systems)

    (a HIGH end system like mine, could still play games, decently 7 yrs from now.. but not with every setting maxxed out)

    Oh one last thing.. it's been said by MS and SONY.... THE CONSOLES WILL NEVER DO 4K VIDEO! At least the current ones won't. you will NEVER see 4K gaming on the current gen xbone and ps4. You WILL be able to: look at 4K pictures and eventually playback 4K video (movies / TV)

    Not all PCs can do 4K.. a mid range PC will CHOKE on a 4K monitor for gaming (or 2-3 2560x1600s side by side). With my rig, I could probably do 3 2560x1600 monitors. ONe in the middle and one on each side for 7.6K gaming (7680x1600), but I'd have to turn down some options

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