5 Reasons Why Microsoft's Xbox One Could Still Beat Sony's PlayStation 4


Early sales tracking has the Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) PlayStation 4 quickly pulling ahead of the Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Xbox One. The PS4 has a lower price point and features more powerful hardware than the Xbox One. Furthermore, Sony's PlayStation Plus service is broadly perceived to offer better value than Microsoft's Xbox Live. All of these factors have led to the widespread belief that the PlayStation 4 will easily coast its way to market leadership. That said, it's very early in the console race and the Xbox One still has the opportunity to claw its way to the top. It may not represent the most likely scenario, but here are five reasons why Microsoft could still claim market leadership in this console cycle.

Winning Japan is irrelevant
The Xbox One never stood a chance of generating big sales in Japan. Microsoft's Xbox and Xbox 360 consoles failed to find a significant audience in the territory and the types of games that drive the Xbox platforms have limited appeal in the region. The PlayStation 4's momentum lead in North America and Europe and all-but-guaranteed market victory in Japan had many speculating that the system would dwarf the sales of the Xbox One. Now, sales data from the country suggests that PlayStation 4 is flopping in Japan. Making matters worse for Sony's system, there is a serious lack of upcoming software for the platform that will entice a Japanese audience and turn things around.


Sony's development studios are having serious problems
Sony recently laid off approximately fifty people at its Santa Monica Studios and cancelled the studio's new IP. Amy Hennig, one of the chief writers and creative minds behind the highly successful "Uncharted" series from Naughty Dog, recently departed from Sony's premier games developer amid rumors she was forced out as a result of tensions with other major figures in the studio. Evolution Studios had to go back to the drawing board to rework its upcoming racer Driveclub, a game that was supposed to be available at PS4's launch. SCE Japan's The Last Guardian has been in development for seven years and hasn't been shown publicly since 2010.

The Xbox One could achieve price parity with PS4 this year
The PlayStation 4's pricing advantage stands as one of the driving forces behind its momentum lead over the Xbox One. Rumors have swirled suggesting that Microsoft would ship an Xbox One without the Kinect 2.0 camera or a system that features no disc drive as a means of lowering the Xbox One's price. Microsoft's latest console will fare much better in the collective consumer conscience if it is priced at level or below the PlayStation 4.

Xbox One has bigger exclusives and a stronger 2014 lineup
Sony's big exclusive offerings on the PlayStation 4 in 2014 are Infamous: Second Son, The Order: 1886, and Driveclub (if the title is still coming this year). None of these games will approach the sales or profile of the recently released Titanfall from Electronic Arts. Outside of the "Gran Turismo" series, Sony lacks exclusives that can match the sales of Xbox exclusives like the "Halo" and "Gears of War" franchises.


History has a tendency to repeat itself
When the PlayStation 3 launched at an exorbitant $599 price point, many were quick to declare the death of PlayStation. When the system frequently received graphically inferior versions of multi-platform games, it seemed obvious that Sony's platform would never catch up with the explosive Xbox 360. The Xbox One's current problems are largely similar to those that plagued the PlayStation 3 early in its lifecycle. Sony turned things around and PlayStation 3 has surpassed the Xbox 360 in global sales. Microsoft still has the opportunity to get the Xbox One to a more market friendly price and deliver the strong lineup of exclusive content necessary to shift the tide.

Foolish takeaway
PlayStation 4 remains the console in the best shape to sure up market leadership. Regardless of what's going on with Sony's development studios, the company made the right moves when it comes to hardware and pricing. Still, it's way too early to write off the Xbox One.

This console generation will be won and lost in North America and Europe, with Japanese sales proving to be a very small factor. Xbox One is lagging behind PS4 in both of those territories, but the success of the Xbox 360 in Western markets shows that victory is more about strength of product than strength of brand. Approximately four months after their respective launches, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox one have yet to be defined. 

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Read/Post Comments (13) | Recommend This Article (3)

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 March 23, 2014, at 9:20 AM, PowerPlayer wrote:

    I'm sorry, but as An American who has always owned Xbox consoles over Playstation, until this generation, I disagree. I always bought Microsoft because it was American even though I secretly knew Sony products were better.

    Not any more. Microsoft tried to force me to be connected to the net at all times and to have a Kinect on at all times. Not only is this troubling from a technical perspective since my Comcast cable seems to go out about weekly, but it is also troubling from a privacy perspective. Let's not forget the Microsoft is one of the companies that has been helping the NSA spy on Americans.

    I have decided this generation I am actually going to buy the better product.

    As a first time owner of a Sony product, I can say I love the PS4. It performs great and I don't have any plans to ever go back to Microsoft.

    PS4 isn't going to just win Japan and Europe like usual, but they will also win North America. What an embarrassment for Microsoft.

    Perhaps someday Microsoft will learn that the customer actually matters, whether it comes to the Xbox or Windows.

    By the way, I have been listening to the Microsoft fanboys since last fall on CNBC talk about how great the Xbox One is and how it will win this generation. You could obviously tell that Jim Cramer and the fast Money crew aren't actual gamers. That doesn't mean that Microsoft's stock isn't or won't do well, but if it does it certainly isn't because they have good products. It is because people like Jim Cramer just promote anything that uses the word cloud... for now.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:33 AM, JadenBlaydes wrote:

    i think this Fool has forgotten that when the PS3 first launched, it was $899, not the 599 in the article. i swear this guy keeps posting that 599 price tag. took Sony about a year to drop the price to 599. A few years more and 2 system versions later, they got the price to a respectable $250.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:38 AM, JJ82 wrote:

    "Winning Japan is irrelevant"

    Never write another gaming article again. You obviously know nothing about the market. Japan is the second largest gaming market in the world and you just tried to make it sound un-important because you KNOW it will not do well there.

    This article is repugnant. and your last point proved it, the PS3 didn't pass the 360 in sales until last year, at the end of the generations life cycle yet this time around PS4 has all of the advantages.

    CURRENTLY the One has more exclusives but Sony already inked deals for more to come at the end of the year and will take the lead next year. Customers have already shown far more interest in the PS4 Eye because it was shown to be more stable than the Kinect and that it can do more and Sony's VR set was a massive hit at the GDC.

    All the balls are in Sony's court. And MS has little but consumer outrage in all sectors of business.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:18 PM, Makaveli2 wrote:

    Jaden, you are wrong the ps4 was never 899, when it launched it was $599 US. Why don't you do some research before calling someone out. It makes yourself look like a fool when you are the one that wrong.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:21 PM, Makaveli2 wrote:

    I bought the first generation ps3 on the first week of launch for $599. It was the 60gb first gen version biggest harddrive offered then. No idea where jaden got 899 from.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 8:55 PM, thisistheslam wrote:

    The Motley Fool is one of the worst journalism sites I've come across that gets fairly large amounts of traffic. There are so many conflicting reports that it's tough to discern what's real and what's not. The Xbox One can and I think will rule over the PS4. This article does highlight some of the important factors that favor Microsoft this generation. The best games graphically don't matter. I love beautiful graphics but poorly constructed games will kill the beauty fast. The PS4 has its lead only because of price and availability worldwide. Once Microsoft can offer the XB1 for $449 or less without sales AND launch in more markets (confirmed for Sept 2014), they'll make up tons of ground and take the lead. Sony doesn't have the draw for exclusives like they used to. TitanFall, Halo, Gears of War, Minecraft, and a slew of new IPs that look promising will create tons of draw with a majority of the worlds gamers. Japan doesn't matter heavily for Microsoft because they're not catering to that demographic, but additional content relevant to that culture could push Xbox adoption there. It's just not a critical market to win a sales war since they're not a sizable market like the US and UK tend to be. Microsoft making smart moves over the next year will give them the leas. Too many foul-ups could stymie the consoles growth. We'll have to wait and see where things land.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 9:36 PM, hazerprime wrote:

    The killer app is still xbox live and the affinity gamers have with their online profile which I suspect is actually hurting microsoft right now as 360 users are still waiting for a next-gen reason to justify leaving their friends list behind to move over to the xbox one. Sony does not have the same online presence so PS3 users don't have to worry about leaving their friends when making the move to next gen.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 1:31 AM, rayjay1999 wrote:

    I feel Xbox one will still have a chance. The thing about this generation of consoles is that Sony is copying Microsoft by producing a console that makes games more easy to develop on. Microsoft also copied Sony by giving into blu-ray. I have an Xbox one and I will say it is a real good console. My brother in law has a ps4. From what I saw the console is just as cool. Me and my bro in law have NBA 2k14. Mine for Xbox one, his for PS4. The game looks the same on both consoles. No matter what type of fan you are. You have to admit both consoles (except for a few different features). Both run in blu-ray, both run on AMD chips, and both have cloud capabilities (I.E. Forza 5 Drivatars/One drive game saves (Xbox one), and Gaikai (PS4)). Everyone compares the two consoles graphically. Direct X 12 was announced at GDC and Microsoft is really pushing hard for it on Win 8 Tablets/computers, Win Phone 8, and Xbox one. Based on what I have seen of Direct X 12 It looks to be the killer app for Game developers. Based on what I see Microsoft and Sony will not be demolishing their console divisions anytime soon. No matter how much the fan's of ether console feel about the other. Japan also is an important market but not as much as it use to be. Japanese based publishers are making more games targeting western audiences. Capcom and Sega Have western based studio's, Sony's exclusive games that are popular are games like uncharted or killzone are American made. Even square enix had to buyout Eidos entertainment to stay relevant. I mean even some Japanese games are developed with the help of western Software like Unreal Engine. I mean the west got PS4 before Japan ever did, and American Sony employees worked with their Japanese counterparts on the PS4. That's why AMD made the chip's on the console and not a Sony designed chip system like what was on Sony's other consoles. With the addition of Valve's steam Boxes, the lines between consoles and PC's are being Blurred. Before Playstation or Xbox, Sony only made Electronic equipment and movies, while Microsoft made Computer software and operating systems. Sony Helped Nintendo make a CD Console that never saw the light of day, and Microsoft helped with Sega's Dreamcast Console, now PlayStation and Xbox are household names.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 11:02 AM, greaseman85 wrote:

    This article is correct on every point. For Microsoft, winning Japan IS irrelevant. They didn't need Japan at all to go toe-to-toe with Sony last generation. In fact Sony spent almost all of last gen playing catch up with Microsoft. As for the other points, PS4 has a horrendous library compared to XB1, and more good games are set to come out in the near future on XB1 than PS4. I just bought the Titanfall bundle from Best Buy for $449, which effectively makes the price less than buying a PS4 with a game. Even when the bundle was $499 it sold like crazy, now imagine with an effective price point that is just slightly less than PS4 sales will pick up even more.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2014, at 3:05 PM, Valentine26 wrote:

    It took titanfall and price cut to stop the xbox bashing but now you bash sony......Instead of always being bias why can't this site treat all equally. All consoles have there pro's and con's and have great games.

    Then again we keep reading from a website that thought xbox and ps4 failed because of poor sales even though numbers are at record pace.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2014, at 12:06 AM, ivanmack wrote:

    PS4 is better hardware wise. But as we learned in the couple years behind its not about the hardware (hint: iPhone and most Apple products). The issue with Sony is cutbacks, they fired a lot of development teams. While on the other side Microsoft has a strong UI team and few thousand programers, designers etc on staff. It will be hard (probably impossible) for Sony to keep up with Xbox, updates and functionality. Plus the love/hate Kinect. Developers are still not utilizing it. In the long run this will open a broad gaming capabilities that we will all benefit from.

  • Report this Comment On March 27, 2014, at 5:17 AM, X1FaboyJr wrote:

    Jaden is the typical fanboy that ruins the image of any platform. He is dumb. PS3 was 599 at launch, not 899. Internet at your finger tips and you still manage to screw up the facts.

  • Report this Comment On March 27, 2014, at 5:23 AM, X1FaboyJr wrote:

    greaseman: so let me get this right, you paid 449 for an X1 and stated that you paid less than a PS4. That is a true statement when you include the Kinnect and a game, but that game is worth 30, not 60. Heck, it's not even a full game and should cost just as much as MGSV. You also paid for a piece of plastic you will rarely use i.e. the Kinnect. So good on you for buying an overpriced game and piece of plastic for 50 bucks. Oh I know, you'll have DirectX 12 coming 2 years lmao! GTFO here nerd.

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