Is Sony’s PS4 Losing Ground to the Xbox One and Wii U in the Console Sales Battle?

Headlines last month all suggested that Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) PS4, which recently hit 6.1 million units on a strong Japanese launch, was outselling Nintendo's (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) Wii U and Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Xbox One by a healthy margin.

However, recent numbers from Japan and the U.S. strongly suggest that it's not too late for Nintendo and Microsoft to mount a comeback. In Japan, Sony actually sold fewer PS4 units than the Wii U during its first three weeks on the market, according to Japanese research firm Media Create. Meanwhile, new NPD numbers in the U.S. indicate that the Xbox One is catching up quickly to the PS4 despite costing $100 more.

(Source: Sony)

A second chance for Nintendo?
Nintendo is frequently criticized for its poor support of the Wii U after its lackluster launch in November 2012. The ill-advised naming and marketing of the console, the confusing form factor, and the lack of strong first- or third-party titles all took their toll on sales. This led to Nintendo slashing its Wii U sales forecasts for 2014 by nearly 70%.

However, one market that Nintendo understands better than either Sony or Microsoft is the Japanese gaming market. Japanese gamers love party games, dating sims, and monster training games -- all niche genres that Nintendo excels at with its handheld 3DS, currently the best-selling console of this generation with 43.4 million units sold.

When we compare the number of Wii U units sold in its first three weeks on the Japanese market (Dec. 8-29, 2012) to the PS4's performance over the past three weeks, Sony's problems become crystal clear:

 

Wii U units sold

PS4 units sold

Week 1

308,142

309,104

Week 2

126,916

65,685

Week 3

122,843

35,294

Total sales

557,901

410,083

Source: Media Create.

Therefore, the PS4's "strong" Japanese launch, which pushed it over the 6 million mark, was actually much weaker than the Wii U's launch. Although PS4 sales in the first week came in slightly higher than Wii U sales, the huge 79% drop the following week suggests that the console is having trouble winning over audiences in Japan.

This could mean that Nintendo's Wii U still has a chance to catch up to the PS4 with stronger exclusive titles such as Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, and X throughout 2014. However, gamers might just be holding off on purchasing the PS4 until Konami's (NYSE: KNM  ) Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes PS4 bundle arrives on March 20.

PS4 barely edges past the Xbox One in the U.S.
Meanwhile, new data from research firm NPD and Microsoft suggests that the Xbox One is catching up to the PS4 in the U.S. Microsoft just reported that it sold 258,000 Xbox One units in February, 61% higher than sales of its seventh generation Xbox 360.

NPD suggests that those numbers are equivalent to 90% of PS4 sales during the same time, a huge improvement from last month, when the PS4 outsold the Xbox One by nearly two to one. That big jump in sales was widely attributed to the eagerly anticipated release of Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ: EA  ) Titanfall on March 11 for the Xbox One and Windows.

The first-person multiplayer shooter will also be released for the Xbox 360 on March 25. Microsoft unveiled a $500 Titanfall bundle across multiple markets prior to the game's release, essentially giving away the $60 game for free.

Microsoft's Titanfall bundle. (Source: Microsoft)

Titanfall has been well received critically with an 86% rating at review aggregator site Metacritic, and could hit sales of 2.5 million units (half on the Xbox One) between March 11 and the end of the month, according to Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia. Those numbers suggest that the Xbox One could actually outsell the PS4 in the U.S. in March if Titanfall is a hit.

However, neither EA nor Microsoft has announced any sales figures for Titanfall. By comparison, Take-Two (NASDAQ: TTWO  ) was quick to boast that GTA V hit $1 billion in sales (nearly 17 million copies) to customers within three days last September. Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI  ) also announced $1 billion in Call of Duty: Ghosts sales within its first 24 hours on the market, but that figure was actually the initial number sold to retailers, and not to customers.

Therefore, it's a little troubling that EA and Microsoft have kept quiet regarding Titanfall's initial sales figures nearly a week after its launch, but both companies could just be waiting for the title to hit the Xbox 360 before reporting concrete sales figures.

The bottom line
These recent developments in Japan and the U.S. reinforce a key point I made in a previous article -- that although Sony has won the early battles of the eighth generation console race, the war is far from over.

If Sony fails to gain traction in Japan, which is widely considered to be a microcosm of Asian gaming, it could lead to Nintendo's Wii U gaining market share on the back of its robust 3DS sales. If Titanfall is a bigger than expected exclusive hit, Sony's PS4 could experience an unexpected slowdown in Western markets, since many of its top launch titles (Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4) can also be found on the Xbox One.

Investors should note that it's far too early to call a winner or loser for the eighth generation. The seventh generation concluded with 101 million original Wiis, 81.1 million Xbox 360s, and 82.5 million PlayStation 3s sold -- which means that the Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 still have a lot of additional gamers to woo before one can be definitively proclaimed the victor or loser.

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Read/Post Comments (31) | Recommend This Article (7)

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  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 11:54 AM, wookietim wrote:

    Is it possible that the PS4 is like one of those heavily hyped movies that get's all of it's real business in the first weekend and then drops down quickly after that? Could it be that the PS4's sales were front-loaded, in other words?

    I might suggest a simple reason that the Xbox One has seen a surge in sales, in the US anyway : People are getting their tax returns and spending it on things that they have wanted, the Xbox One being one of those things...

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 3:30 PM, heflys20 wrote:

    I like how this article only focuses on specific markets (Japan for the Wii U) and (America for the Xbox One) to give the impression that the PS4 is somehow losing the console war.

    Hilarious.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 3:56 PM, heflys20 wrote:

    Edit:

    "somehow beginning to lose the console war"

    You guys need an edit button. LOL.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 4:15 PM, dazmule007 wrote:

    Yes...the PS4 is a hyped up machine...and lack of games is catching up. Own all 3 systems...and PS4 catches majority of my dust...especially since Titanfall release. Hoping Wii U gets 3rd wind...way underrated system...I blame Nintendo marketing...their exclusives are A+. Admit, not Sony fan, and bought system to love of gaming and massive hype...regretting now. Sorry, Microsoft knows western markets better...Europeans/Americans are die hard gun nuts loving shooters...Sony doesn't get that...hence lack of quality FPS (Killzone, great graphics, other than that, barely make a dent as indie PC game, that bad!)

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 5:12 PM, heflys20 wrote:

    @NonCasual

    The Wii U may sell well in the Japan, but how is fairing in other markets? If we're to indicate who is "losing" this "war," we need to factor in all sales.

    Should I say the Xbox One is losing the war because it isn't selling in Japan?

    Where are the numbers from Europe?

    The rest of your comment sounds utterly biased/ridiculous, and I won't discuss it aside from that. I'm not here to bash consoles, just discuss sales numbers.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 6:55 PM, elle33 wrote:

    Looks like most gamers feel that Playtation now's

    game rental prices are unfair, at least that's what

    it looks like here:

    http://opi.cc/6ZXSQbOGCK60VF6B

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 7:05 AM, BernadetN wrote:

    Microsoft already admitted they are trying to sell the xbox franchise to someone because it isnt making them as much money as thier other products (office etc). As for the ps4 thats a gimmick. Its basically a movie theatre,every game has to look HD (do we really give a rats ass about HD when it comes to gaming?) sony is known for selling you a blue ray player and thats all they are selling to you man their CEO already jumped ship a few weeks ago; and even worse EVERY ps4/xbox1 game is ALREADY on the pc. Tell me what makes more SENSE buying a $60 call of duty game on pc or spending $500+ for a console JUST to play call of duty(and more games ALREADY on pc).

    None of nintendo's games are on pc,they dont care about hd too much its new to them but they are getting it the WiiU is in HD 1080P ,all they care about is games and zelda/mario/starfox etc are guaranteed. ps4/xbox1 have no guarantees because all of its games are also on pc and if you think about how many people own pc's whats the point in buying a $600 console with no games? WiiU is only $300 AND it comes with a game.

    Do the math. Its not hard to see why WiiU will outsell both xbox1/ps4 and put them both out of business by jan 2016. ps4 is selling off of hype right now,its not selling due to games because it has no games. Its also funny sony brags about how powerfull ps4 is but computers are more powerfull,its funny because you can literally spend only $60 for the next call of duty/tomb raider/resident evil whatever on you're pc and it will 2-3x better than a ps4/xbox1. I can guarantee xbox1 and ps4 will both completely fail in 1 year

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 8:36 AM, BluPatarsky wrote:

    WIIU had great 1st Party and 3rd Party Games FIRST YEAR. WHAT THEY DIDN"T HAVE WAS GOOD ADVERTISING! THEY BARELY ADVERTISED THE CONSOLE IN 2013! AND THERE NOT DOING A GOOD ENOUGH JOB ADVERTISING ON TV!

    HOW BOUT AN ARTICLE ON THE WII U DISCUSSING THEIR MARKETING BUDGET AND MARKETING ISSUES?

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 10:01 AM, h20uiene wrote:

    I think that people are thinking wrong about some stuff I have a ps4 and my friend has an xbox one I think that none of them lag and that it doesn't matter between 1080p and 720p. But I think that sony makes the games that aren't that good exclusives they should learn from microsoft about exclusives. Then again microsoft shouldn't choose if you want a kinect. Plus why should I have to pay for the app there's the registration or subscription fee. Wii u thinks the most about your money it doesn't lag at all is 100$ cheaper than ps4 and it comes with a game ps4 you have to pay 400$ for the console and a controller no game or playstation plus voucher. Plus why is everything 60$ all major games controllers and camera. The good thing about xbox one is that the titanfall bundle it comes with a blockbuster game. That's pretty good since microsoft makes you pay for everything. Playsation is starting to do the same thing everything is payed. people think that the wii u is that good and I don't know why but if your a kid that's saving up money for a console I suggest buy the wii u because it will cost you $660 dollars for a ps4, the camera, two controllers, 3 month subscriptions, two games. it will cost you $440 for the wii u one basic controller, one pro controller and two games pretty good. Microsoft dropped the price for the xbox one to get one game with the console for the same price finally common sense. For $ 630 you get two games, the console, the kinect, two controllers, with two charge kits pretty good. Little bit expensive just because they added the kinect for 100$. If it was 60$ would have been a lot better.

    I like how sony is going to release the playstation now and suspend mode although I wonder what happens if you suspend in an online game?

    I like the xbox one has better exclusives like forza 5 and titanfall

    I really don't know much about the wii u but I heard it's great.

    BTW

    Xbox one is mainly for entertainment

    PS4 is mainly for gaming but it sucks when you don't have the good games.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 10:44 AM, NonCasualGamer wrote:

    You don't have good games because you can't have good games, and there aren't any good games until late 2015, if even that.

    PS4 is a videogames only machine that can for some reason play blu ray, it doesn't have games, the consol itself does nothing but have the worst browser since ps3, and the controllers are still pathetic.

    Playstation fanboys...... Lol. Nothing awaits.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 10:53 AM, ewro wrote:

    Playstation is out of stock nearly everywhere. They are selling big in every market. Soon as the next big shipment hits Japan you will see those numbers rebound.

    Give me a break..... pretty horrible reporting. Trying to spin a positive as a negative.

    Nintendo would love to have Sony's stock problem right now.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 11:11 AM, 3dpenguin wrote:

    @ewro

    The problem is two fold with the PS4

    First, the system is in too many uncontested markets, which means they are selling in markets where there is at present little to no competition from MS or Nintendo.

    Second, Sony isn't producing enough systems to cover the world wide demands.

    What this translates to is the PS4's popularity ranges from it is the next big thing since the invention of the wheel, which is doubtful, to it is popular enough to staying sold out but if they were releasing the same number of units as MS and Nintendo were releasing in each market the PS4 would be sitting on the shelves also.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 11:21 AM, HenryHayne wrote:

    The console is great, the games so so. In the long run, the games count more.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 11:23 AM, stangace20 wrote:

    Whoa! I gotta take a picture of this......a gaming article from TMF that is NOT trash talking the xbox one the whole time.

    I wonder what brought on this reversal....did Sony stop paying you guys?

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 11:38 AM, LetoAtreides82 wrote:

    This article is so biased against the PS4 it's ridiculous. Early reports are indicating that the Xbox One version of Titanfall sold only about 700,000 copies.

    http://www.insiderp.com/titanfall-launch-sales.html

    This article also doesn't mention that while Titanfall is currently at 86 after 54 critic scores, it is only 6.3 after 1578 user scores. 6.3 puts it around the same user score as Killer Instinct. User reception of the game is important, as word of mouth can help drive sales, and of course the opposite if it's not well received by consumers.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 11:58 AM, kensal wrote:

    "However, recent numbers from Japan and the U.S. strongly suggest that it's not too late for Nintendo and Microsoft to mount a comeback."...it was never too late..and bias opinionated articles from this site only added to the stupidity of it all.....not adding that the pS4 is available in what 53 markets whereas the X1 is only in 13...new announcement that it will be in another 26 by september...which makes it even more amazing that its able to keep up with the PS4 in sales and will surpass it yet still only out in 13 countries....aside from infamous (which doesn't even excite me anyhow) there is nothing enticing about the PS4 now or in the future.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 11:58 AM, NonCasualGamer wrote:

    The article also doesn't mention how pointless it is right now to own a PS4. At least Microsoft has something other than games to fall back on.

    Someone above mention playstation and "stock" and it made me think about how screwed sony is right now. No money, no console, no games, and all the hype in the world. Mediocrity awaits.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 12:02 PM, lacerz wrote:

    How about some facts?

    The PS4 is released in more markets than the Xbox One, but in the markets where both are released, the PS4 is leading in 1) sales and 2) units sold.

    The Xbox One launched one of the most hyped games of 2014 and saw its sales in the U.K. go up 96%. However, during that same launch window, PS4 sales increased 72.4%. The PS4 is outselling the Xbox One by a 1.5:1 margin in the U.K. Basic math shows that 72.4% of 1.5 is greater than 96% of 1... and those sales numbers are with the Xbox One receiveing a price drop (U.K.) AND bundling Titanfall for free.

    In the U.S., the PS4 maintained it's lead in units sold by outselling the Xbox One in February.

    The PS4 is supply chain restircted. According to Sony, this will be the case for about 2 more weeks. The 72.4% spike in the U.K. was credited to additional stock becoming available. April will see another spike in sales.

    Infamous: Second Son launches in 3 days. Depending on the reviews, that could seriously move some systems.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 12:08 PM, mobrocket wrote:

    What an moronic article.

    Sony has sold the most consoles and hasnt had to result to any price cuts or market gimmicks. I would say that is a big positive for sony

    MSFT had to pay a truckload to EA to keep Titanfall off of Sony (fyi its not an exclusive its on PC too) and now u get titanfall free.. aka XB1 already $50 price cut

    Wii U never gained traction due to horrible planning by nintendo, they need to just make games and handhelds and license them to sony/msft, get out of the console business

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 12:17 PM, lacerz wrote:

    There are currently 44 games on the PS4. There are currently 35 games on the Xbox One.

    The Xbox One has the Kinect 2.0, which, according to reports, works 80% of the time. A normal remote works 100% of the time and is typically much faster than having to speak "Xbox <enter command and hope it works>". Plus you don't need to factor in other people talking... "Shhhhh... I need to change the channel."

    Xbox requires a cable box to be plugged into it to have the cable pass through to the dashboard. So it's a cable box, that requires a cable box. What an amazing feature.

    The Xbox One has issues hitting 1080p and 60 fps at the same time. If it hits 60fps, it is most likely only displaying at 720p or maybe 900p. If it's displaying at 1080p, you're only getting 30 fps out of it. Pretty pathetic for "next gen". The games that do manage it (Forza) can't do dynamic weather or night cycles... a racing game without rain and snow and it's always sunny! Sounds awesome.

    There is Skype. That's cool, but that's about it.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 12:19 PM, NonCasualGamer wrote:

    And exactly why would nintendo leave the hardware business when they're literally sitting on billions of dollars, and each consol is sold at a profit. Not to mention the amazing exclusive games.

    Sony on the other hand... None of the above.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 12:33 PM, dinglehopper69 wrote:

    Like really? the first 4 months and you're deciding who's the winner already? One Titanfall release and Xbox won already? i for one am interested that ALL consoles will be available.

    smacks too much of an MS hatchet job.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 1:54 PM, hogikanobi wrote:

    So, I own the Xbox One. I don't understand, nor will I ever understand, why owners of different consoles feel the need to bad mouth the others' system. To be quite honest, I don't care one bit if you own a PS4. I don't care what sales are, in any region of the world. I don't care who "wins" the console war. I bought the Xbox One for a few different reasons. However, the system is far from flawless. The complete butchering of the online party system is, to me anyway, the biggest problem. When playing Ghosts splitscreen, my mic cuts out for no apparent reason, frequently lol. Nothing is really smooth on the Xbox One dashboard. In trying to freshen it up and "revolutionize" it, they've really just broken it. The other day I was playing Dark Souls II, and it was so nice hitting the guide button and actually being able to navigate my friends list without a 15-20 second delay. Button line is, I don't regret the purchase at all. Titanfall is awesome. Garden Warfare is fun. They'll be more great games. Just like all other consoles. To summarize, if you don't own the console, what's the incentive to rip anybody who does? Everyone has their preferences.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 1:54 PM, spinod wrote:

    I've yet to see a PS4 on shelves. Sony is struggling to keep up with demand, which is hurting sales. Xbox One on the other hand has been on shelves for months now, and they are still not moving much.

    A store announces PS4 in stock, it goes right back out of stock in a day. Xbox One announces stock, its still there.

    i also like how when Sony is winning Japan, it doesn't matter at all. when Japan only buys 64 total Xbox 360's, and thousands of PS3's, it doesn't matter. Japan doesn't buy PS4's and suddenly its the biggest deal in the world.....

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 2:24 PM, michaelarkangel wrote:

    The ONE and ONLY Xbox One article I have seen on here in months, and the Sony fanboys/girls come out in hordes with their panties in a bunch! It's laughable to consider a winner of any console in the first months of its existence. The fact that the Xbox One is slowly gaining ground is nice to hear, since competition breeds excellence ANY way you slice it. I would love to own all three, and perhaps when they drop the prices a bit more, I will be able to enjoy the next gen of gaming consoles. I wish the best for all three companies, The gaming future looks bright indeed!

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 2:42 PM, starflyer59 wrote:

    LOL. The Motley Fool writers cannot make up there minds. Tomorrow they will write a story about how the PS4 is saving the world and destroying all other gaming machines.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 3:00 PM, Sarentack wrote:

    One of the things I have seen for years with PLaystation and most people wont admit to this, is the majority of buyers of it is more casual than what Nintendo puts out, since the PLaystation 2 days its mainly had a casual demographic that buys the console as a fad and the games purchased in a life time is quite limited, most of the people buys it and buys Sports games like Madden or Call of Duty,they not even serious about gaming.

    What needs to be bought up to the light is not console sales itself, I like to see total game sales for each system.. I think this is more telling.

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 5:50 PM, elle33 wrote:

    Looks like Konami will have a hard time bouncing back after this.

    Most people here feel they betrayed their audience by releasing such a short game:

    http://opi.cc/e1Pwg1725mAUwjz6

  • Report this Comment On March 18, 2014, at 8:46 PM, mgkkain wrote:

    Here is my question how is sony losing ground when they still managed to outsell the ms one. The gap between the two systems is still getting bigger.

  • Report this Comment On March 19, 2014, at 9:13 AM, Bunnyking77 wrote:

    The problem with the Wii U is that the American Media completely destroyed it when it launched. It is a good console.

    The PS4 is also a good console, yet the US Media is trying to bias sales figures and give the XBOXone too much credit.

    The XBOXone is a poorly designed console, even more so than whatever faults the Wii U has.

    The Wii U can run games at a 720 HD or higher, and it has more than 10 exclusive games out for it now. Neither the PS4 or the XBOXone can say the same about their game library.

    This article is pretty twisted, pitting both the Wii U and the PS4 in their home market of Japan. Of course Nintendo is going to sell well there. The media in Japan hasn't attacked the Wii U as a pox on gaming.

  • Report this Comment On March 20, 2014, at 7:42 PM, Notafanboy wrote:

    I own both the X1 and Ps4, I read with interest comments made by people justifying the only reason X1 sales starting to catch Ps4 is stock shortage. I live in the uk and this simply isn't the case. I purchased my P4 simply by walking into my local game shop, they even had a couple of preowned machines available, Argos also have P4's in stock, stock shortages may be the case in certain countries but I don't see it here, maybe at first, but not so much now. I love my X1 and P4, I play 90% online so the X1 and live is my preference over Psn. For me, the fact is I have two fantastic machines that will sell in droves, and I'm in gaming heaven.

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