During last year's holiday season, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One outsold Sony's (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 4 in both November and December, according to data from NPD.

Neither company released specific sales figures for the time period, but it was a needed win for Microsoft, which has generally seen its latest console sell about half what its rival's has. The fourth quarter of any year, of course, is a pivotal time for console sales, and in 2014 there was a clear reason Xbox One bucked what has been a consistent sales pattern for the two brands.

Last year, for the holidays (and eventually permanently), Microsoft lowered the price of its console from $399.99 to $349.99 and further sweetened the deal by selling bundles at that price complete with games and accessories. Sony bundled its console with games as well, but held to a $399.99 price point.

Since an argument can be made in favor of buying either console, price is clearly a factor, especially at a time of year when the pricey bundles are being given as gifts. A child wanting a new console may have preferred a PS4 last year, but he or she could have been over-ruled by the adult shelling out the cash to actually buy it.

Being cheaper gave Microsoft an advantage and almost certainly cost Sony some sales. The company will not make the same mistake in 2015.

What is Sony doing? 
The company has decided to drop the base price of its popular PS4 console for the holiday season to match Microsoft at $349. Sony made the announcement in a blog post:

Since the launch of PS4, we have been thrilled with the amount of gamers jumping into the world of PlayStation for the first time. If you haven't made the jump yet, and you're starting early on your holiday wish list, I have good news – we're dropping the price of the PlayStation 4 system in the U.S. and Canada. Starting tomorrow, October 9, you'll be able to pick up PS4 starting at the new price of $349.99 USD / $429.99 CAD (MSRP).

At that new, lower price, the company also plans to offer a bundle featuring Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and one featuring the highly anticipated Star Wars: Battlefront. Sony will also offer two limited edition Star Wars bundles at the old price of $399.99. 

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Source: Sony.

Microsoft has some deals, too
Not to be outdone by its rival, Microsoft has already released a number of holiday deals, but none of its bundles include a price below $349.99. The bundles, which have been announced on the Xbox Wire blog, include:

  • Gears of War Ultimate Edition bundle: This includes 500 GB Cirrus White console, a digital copy of Gears of War Ultimate Edition, the Superstar Cole multiplayer skin, and access to the Gears of War 4 beta. The bundle is a Wal-Mart exclusive that will be available in November for $349.99.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider bundle: Offering a 1TB hard drive, a full-game download of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the exclusive Tactical Survival Kit Content Pack, which contains a new outfit and weapon skin for Lara, and a full-game download of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, the HD remake of 2013's critically acclaimed and award-winning Tomb Raider, the new bundle costs $399.99.
  • Xbox One 1TB Holiday Bundle: This deal, also costing $399.99, comes with three games -- Gears of War: Ultimate EditionRare Replay and a full-game download of Ori and the Blind Forest

There are even more bundles, but basically, Microsoft is holding the line on price at $349.99 and offering the 1TB of storage version of Xbox for an added $50.

Advantage Sony?
Since the two consoles launched in November 2013, Sony has generally outsold Microsoft when it offered PS4 at a lower or equal price to its rival. There's no reason to believe that won't be the case here and if Microsoft holds the line at $349.99, Xbox One will probably be the holiday sales loser.

Of course, Microsoft may win for losing as, while it has been outsold by Sony, both consoles have been successful and are outpacing sales of the previous generation of consoles. It would also not be shocking if Xbox One received a late price cut if early returns for the holiday season are not good, but for now, it's Sony which has gone lower while Microsoft appears steadfast in staying at last year's price point.

 

Daniel Kline owns shares of Microsoft. He owns an Xbox One and is pretty excited about Star Wars: Battlefront. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.