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Does it matter that the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in January (by a lot)?

Today was a big day for news. There was the Titanfall beta, Little Mac joining Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS, and a release date for Mario Kart 8, but the biggest bomb ended up being some surprising US sales figures for the last month. January’s NPD results for the states showed that the PS4 was the top seller for the month, with rumors circulating that it nearly doubled the Xbox One’s sales.

It should be noted that, compared to the UK where Sony routinely dominates (PS4 handily outsold the Xbox One there last year), PlayStation is often behind the Xbox in the US. In fact, Sony didn’t top US hardware sales from January 2011 to September 2013. Things changed since the PS4 launched, with Sony and Microsoft battling for dominance, and if media insiders are to be believed, PS4 nearly doubled Xbox One’s US sales for the month. So how did this happen and will it continue?

The most obvious answer is that the PS4 costs $100 less than Microsoft’s machine, a price difference that’s hard for most consumers to ignore. Combine that with some post-holiday buzz and your average Walmart and Target shoppers might be swayed over to Sony’s hardware. Price always matters, even more so if Microsoft is failing to communicate just what you get for that extra money.

It’s hard to believe new games pulled people to one system over the other, because January was a dead zone of major releases. However, it’s worth noting that of the top ten best-selling games that month, the PS4 version outsold the Xbox One’s in most cases. That’s further proof of the console’s US dominance for January. In particular, there’s word that the PS4 edition of Tomb Raider sold twice as many than the Xbox One’s.

Some console war pundits would point out that Tomb Raider was one of many games that outputs 1080p on PS4 and at lower resolution on Xbox One. At first that sounded like a lame talking point that only the most tech savvy would even care about, but this could be proof that the resolution debacle is having an impact outside of forum flamebait. I know that earlier this week I was at a Sony press event, and several of the execs there talked up 1080p enough to think that they’re at least taking it seriously as a way to differentiate itself from the competition.

This is just one month in the marathon that is the current console generation, and the lack of major games from either publisher might make this a hard one to judge. But this does show PS4 building up momentum that the PS3 never had much of a handle on. This coming March should be a much more illustrative month. That’s when Titanfall hits (arguably Microsoft’s biggest exclusive this year), while Sony launches Infamous: Second Son alongside a ton of other big, multiplatform releases. If the PS4 can stay on top that month, that’s when Microsoft really needs to worry.

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37 comments

  • mirthor - February 18, 2014 1:39 p.m.

    Everyone that is saying, 'oh march, march, the xbone will dominate' is forgetting that that is when the ps4 launches in japan. its largest market. so no. as much as i would like to see microsoft thrive i just dont see them catching up to sony any time soon.
  • MrPips - February 17, 2014 7:14 a.m.

    Thing to remember is that the game sales only account for physical retail sales. I buy PS4 games on disc, but every game on the Xbox One I get digitally. With that said, I didn't buy Tomb Raider on either system because I already owned the superior PC version.
  • CAPTinsano_VT - February 16, 2014 2:34 a.m.

    I think a lot of people dont like what microsoft have done with the xbox one, Didnt like some of the things microsoft said and now they (like me) are speaking with their wallet. I got a decent gaming PC and still have my 360 so i'm in no hurry and have no need to buy a new console yet. I would much rather have a xbox then a ps4 but now im not sure what i'll do. If you ignore the consumer this is what happens.
  • Sjoeki - February 15, 2014 12:20 p.m.

    And here in the netherlands the Xbox One isn't even out yet, some gaming sites here are even talking about rumours they hear that the Xbox One isn't coming here till august or september. I don't know if that's true but I know that the PS4 is going to have a very big lead, even if they would release the Xbox One here in march. Last time I checked our biggest online shop here, you have to wait 12 weeks if you want to buy a PS4, the demand is that high.
  • Pruman - February 15, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    I usually end up at at least one big-box store every weekend, and I've seen piles of XBONEs sitting on the shelves since the day after Christmas. I have yet to see a PS4 in the wild. It's almost the exact opposite of the PS3/Wii situation. The Wii was sold out everywhere for like 2 YEARS after it came out, but by January of 2007, you could walk into any store and pick up a PS3 (which prompted Jack Tretton to offer a $1,200 bounty for any sitting on a shelf, and Penny Arcade to make a priceless comic that eviscerated his premise). I'd wager the $100 premium has more to do with lack of sales. I'd like to believe that everyone's like me and is punishing Microsoft for selling out gamers to own the living room...but I know I'm just one guy.
  • Eightboll812 - February 14, 2014 9:11 a.m.

    People keep saying wait for Titanfall, then Xbone will really take off. I'm not so sure about that. They will definitely get a bump especially with a Titanfall edition of the console. But I'm gonna go ahead and make a prediction that the bump won't be that significant. Anecdotally (admittedly), the only people I see licking their chops at Titanfall already own an Xbone. I've not seen one person say, I'm simply waiting for Titanfall before I pickup my Xbone. I'm sure some are out there, but I do believe MOST who are looking forward to the game are picking up their Xbones in advance of the release.
  • Galgomite - February 14, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    PS4 just has better buzz right now. It's supposedly a bit faster and no one cares about Kinect. Also, the Xbox staples (GoW, Halo) haven't arrived yet. It doesn't mean MS can't fix this pretty easily, they just aren't desperate yet. Give it til next fall. If MS wants to just win, there'll be a Kinect-free "core unit" with no disc drive that can sell for $299.
  • Eightboll812 - February 14, 2014 8:29 p.m.

    I think a driveless Xbone would be a horrible idea. Kinect-free, great idea. If they really do push forward with a driveless unit, it will prove that they have no idea what the identity of the Xbone is. First it was media center... but what is a media center that can't play a single Blu-ray? Who doesn't own at least a few if not a bunch of Blu-ray movies, not to mention DVDs. MS says this is an all-in-one media box, yet I have to throw out every movie I already own and start over with digital movies if I want it to be a "one" device for me. And on top of that, MS didn't give me a second HDMI input so I can plug a Blu-ray player and TV. I have to choose one or the other simply because they think I don't need a disk drive anymore. I think MS has no clue what they are trying to sell anymore.
  • Galgomite - February 14, 2014 8:53 p.m.

    Fact is, MS can't make money off blu-ray, and they can kill off used games by going all-digital. It isn't good for the consumer long-term but it's clear most gamers will give up physical copies and even proper ownership to save a couple bucks.
  • Eightboll812 - February 15, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    I get that. And if MS was saying "it's just a game console folks" I'd not give them a hard time about trying for a digital only console. But I'm talking about movies which MS went out of their way to talk about this being a TV box and an all-in-one media center...the only box I need sitting under my TV. For them to give up Blu-ray means I have to have more clutter under my TV. Not having a separate "movie player" is a consolidation I made LAST GEN!! If I were to buy a digital-only console from MS, it would actually force me to add a box to my media center, just to be able to play DVDs and Blu-rays. And that's exactly the opposite direction from what they promised with "the one". I really want to focus like a laser on that point, so I hesitate to add one further comment lest it detract. But I don't know if gamers will give up media in the long run. I have pretty good broadband, and it would still take me quite a while to download a 50GB game. I could go to the store and back and have it installed in probably 1/10th the time it would take to download. Gamers are not only driven by saving a buck, but they are also driven by "GOTTA HAVE IT NOW!!!" and the need to be playing a game at midnight of launch will not be satisfied by going all digital. I think people who try out all-digital on a console will quickly regret it. There's just too many irritations, including hard drives that are way too small.
  • gopher1369 - February 18, 2014 4:23 a.m.

    "Who doesn't own at least a few if not a bunch of Blu-ray movies, not to mention DVDs." Me. I got rid of my DVD player, ohh, at least 5 years ago. I have never owned a Blu Ray drive. I am and have been for some time entirely digital. The only physical media I buy is 3DS cartridges, because the estore prices are too high. All my PC and Xbox games are digital (don't own a Playstation).
  • Eightboll812 - February 18, 2014 10:34 a.m.

    You are in the minority. Even CD sales still exceed digital music.
  • Eightboll812 - February 18, 2014 10:41 a.m.

    You also deflected the question. You said you got rid of your DVD player, not whether you chucked all your DVDs and replaced them with digital copies.... But saying you got rid of your DVD player isn't really an honest answer either. I infer from you never owning a Blu-ray, that you either didn't have a console last gen or you had a 360...which had a DVD player. So you still had a player. You just didn't have a standalone player, and you are trying to be cute in your reply. I could play word games too and point out I've also never had a standalone Blu-ray and I got rid of my standalone DVD player too. That's not saying much though because I still have multiple devices that can play both, including my computer which I can hook up to the TV via HDMI to play movies. Either way the point STILL is what I said above, convergence happened last gen. Why get rid of the disk drive when people still have disks to play?
  • gopher1369 - May 3, 2014 2:53 a.m.

    "You said you got rid of your DVD player, not whether you chucked all your DVDs and replaced them with digital copies...." Bit of a late reply, I know. Yes, I got rid of my standalone DVD player and all of my DVDs (gave them away to friends mostly) and now use Netflix and Hulu instead. 5 years was a bit of an exageration, it was 3 years ago I ditched all of my optical discs. You're right, I forget that the Xbox has a built in DVD player (I've never used it to play DVDs). Last game I bought on disc for it was Borderlands 2 about 18 months ago, I don't use it very much. I mainly play games on PC and 3DS. I watch movies on Netflix on my PC. I watch TV on Hulu through my PC. Yes the TV is in my living room hooked up via HDMI.
  • Eightboll812 - May 9, 2014 9:34 a.m.

    I'm not going to judge your wisdom in getting rid of every DVD you own. I'll just say that for me that is not an option at this point, based on practical and monetary concerns. Netflix has very incomplete digital coverage, and they are constantly changing. I can't count on them having the content I have on disk in digital format. I've seen too many things disappear as well, I suppose because they didn't renew the rights. I don't know how Hulu works, but I've noticed that subscription based services tend to be similar in that regard. Those that work more like Amazon Prime allow you to buy some and watch without buying others. I'm not about to go buy movies I already have bought. Second, I have recitals and many other things that are on DVD. No desire to go all digital will make me part with memories, because getting rid of the disk means getting rid of the content. Even if I rip I'll still keep the disk just in case. I also have some videos that will likely never end up on Streaming. No, not what you are probably thinking, just low production run, more privately sold items, like disks from small-time comedians and stuff. So again, no drive to digital will make me part with things that aren't on digital.
  • razy - February 14, 2014 7:37 a.m.

    If MS drops their price, I'm pretty sure Sony will drop their price to continue the dominance. Sony will still be available in many more regions compared to MS too which is going to be a big difference on the global sales. If the multi-console titles continue to be slightly better on the PS4 that's only gonna compliment the strong library of 1st Party games Sony will be releasing over the years. I really can't see MS catching up at all.
  • razy - February 14, 2014 7:29 a.m.

    I honestly can't see MS catching up this gen at all. Sony is going to dominate the Asian market and they're already doing quite well in Europe and NA. Sales are only going to go up for Sony once they can continue to supply stock globally (after they launch in Japan) and a few more games come out. I was lucky and was able to order a PS4 from Toys R Us on launch day without pre-ordering, however, I've only purchased Black Flag so far. I've been enjoying some free titles off the PSN+ but I definitely plan on buying; MLB 14 The Show The Order 1866 Infamous Second Son Drive Club (Maybe) not sure if it's worth buying since it's also free on PSN+ UFC The Witcher 3 Carmageddon (It has to be good right??) Watch Dogs NHL 15 Not sure what else drops in 2014. I really can't wait for Uncharted 4 and Fallout 4 though. Also, I can see a few Xb1 owners purchasing a PS4 down the road as well. Awesome exclusives and the PSN+ is so worth it for free games. I can't see too many PS4 owners wanting to buy a XB1 though, The Kinect isn't an attractive feature at all. Sony's dominance is inevitable this gen. The friends list is a good point too, specially for playing shooters n sport games with your friends. Also, strongly believe Sony is going to have a larger and stronger library of games over the next few years as their dev friendly policies seem to attract more studios to go along with that larger global install base. The lack of 1080p on the XB1 on multiple system titles is a real piss off to and I would never pay more for an inferior product. Thx Sony for making a wicked system #4ThePlayer Be cool if Sony revived the NHL Faceoff series to compete with lazy EA though.
  • Eistiem - February 14, 2014 7:06 a.m.

    It seemed to matter to you idiots back in 2006 and 7. Why not now? Cause you don't like Sony bullying on poor widdle Microsoft? TOO BAD!!
  • db1331 - February 14, 2014 6:40 a.m.

    I just don't see the need to own either system right now. There's no must play exclusives for them.
  • gopher1369 - February 18, 2014 4:28 a.m.

    "I just don't see the need to own either system right now. There's no must play exclusives for them." 100% agree with this. There are so many great games on 360/PS3 that those consoles will keep me going for the foreseeable future.

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