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Turns out Microsoft and Sony are neck-and-neck with next-gen sales

The previous console generation defied all logic, where the two most similar consoles launched a full year apart and ended up tied by the end of the race. But this generation, things are different. Sony and Microsoft releases consoles of comparable power and price within weeks of each other, and depending on who you ask, though, one or the other is blowing its competition out of the water. Jump onto an Xbox forum and you'll hear how the Xbox One has better games and people care about the "all in one" experience. Meander towards the PS4 side and you'll hear that the lower-priced console (with its awesome games) is surely outselling the overpriced, gameless Xbox One. Oh, and someone, somewhere thinks that Nintendo still has a chance to destroy the competition with the Wii U.

The truth, however, is more exciting and equitable: they're both doing about the same. Microsoft just revealed that the Xbox One, despite launching later in the year, managed to ship 3.9 million units. The PlayStation 4, on the other hand, sold 4.2 by December 31, according to Sony. 

Looking forward, the two systems have pretty evenly matched release schedules as well: Xbox has Titanfall and a Halo game on the horizon, and Sony fans can look forward to new entries in the Infamous and Uncharted franchises. This is good news for the console-makers, great news for the game industry, and absolutely fantastic news for gamers who don't want to hear analysts talk about how console gaming is dead and everything is moving to mobile.

Competition breeds innovation; innovation breeds progress. Microsoft's lead in the last generation gave it the ground to slowly add features without taking big risks, leading to six years of iteration while Sony tried its hardest to get cross-game chat working. Microsoft added Netflix, and Sony... eventually figured out Trophy support. The Xbox had a Hulu app, and the PS3 got hacked. But once Sony (eventually) caught up, Microsoft had to scramble to make its Xbox Live service stronger--eventually opting to give out free games in an effort to match PlayStation Plus. With PlayStation Now on the horizon, Microsoft needs to answer again--not because it's behind or winning, but because things are even, and it simply can't afford to fall behind.

With the two consoles fighting for first place in a very tight race, the deciding factor is going to come from something new. Sony can't hope that the occasional free game through PlayStation Plus is going to win things for them, and Microsoft isn't going to be able to hide behind Master Chief during this new generation. Things are, for the most part, all tied up, and gamers are going to benefit greatly as the two companies struggle to break the stalemate.

Editor's Note: This article originally stated that Microsoft had sold 3.9 million units in 2013, when in fact it had shipped 3.9 million. GamesRadar regrets this error.

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48 comments

  • ManusCanis - January 28, 2014 11:42 a.m.

    It kills me how some people here want to drag this writer through the dirt because they “Think” they understand sales figures. Let me help the economically challenged out real quick. Microsoft “shipped” them somewhere which would mean you need to define your sales, do you want to count only end user or do you intend to include mediatory vendors? If you include your mediatory vendors then shipped is sold (FOB) meaning ownership for the product passed at the point of shipping. If you would like to count end users you would need to compare region to region which this does not give the information for, (A quick bit of research will show in some place like the US the Xbox one out sold the PS4) but I’ll digress on that small point to look at a larger more damning fact. Microsoft shipped/sold 3.9 mill while PS4 Shipped/sold 4.2 so it would appear that PS4 Sold/shipped more. But you need to analyze the value gained or earned in short who made more money. Microsoft with 3.9 mil x 499.99 price tag gets a nice 1,950 mil. While the PS4 4.2 x 399.99 gathers a still impressive although smaller 1,680 mil. That difference is 270 mil, doing something a lot and doing something better is normally measured in price. So PS4 sold more units but made less money so they are in effect targeting a different market. Turning this into a quality (Xbox one) verses quantity (PS4) argument if you will. However, I would still call it neck and neck but then I’m an Accountant by trade not a fan boy in desperate need to split hairs so I can feel better about my purchase. Remember the barrier to entry for an opinion is free but an educated answer is priceless.
  • Eightboll812 - January 24, 2014 8:20 p.m.

    I've only found one site that actually reports consoles sold through to retail in any level of detail, and it's been extremely accurate from day 1. http://www.vgchartz.com/ It clearly shows MS' numbers are misleading. 3.9 million shipped to retail, but even as of Jan 11, still only 3.2 actually sold. Meanwhile Sony has actually sold 4.6 million. They are "close", yeah, but stating that they are "neck and neck" is blatantly false.
  • Eightboll812 - January 24, 2014 8:37 p.m.

    What is interesting about the breakdown is that it is a RAZOR THIN margin in North America. And if you look at last gen, being razor thin in NA for MS is a complete disaster. They OWN North America from last gen and were hoping at least to make Europe the battleground, not their home territory being the battleground, and completely conceding Europe to Sony. But that's exactly what is happening so far. I'm curious how this will play out now that it looks like PS4 shipments are finally catching up to consumer demand in stores.
  • JustAnotherRogueAI - January 24, 2014 11:42 a.m.

    If possible, this article should just be deleted. The PS4 actually SOLD 1.2 million more units than the XBone, which is a pretty massive difference. This entire article is based around the PS4 and the XBone selling nearly the same, which is exactly the opposite of what the numbers show us is actually true.
  • GR HollanderCooper - January 24, 2014 9:58 a.m.

    Thanks for the notes--the error has been corrected!
  • Abriael - January 24, 2014 2:32 p.m.

    are you sure you "regreST" it? :D
  • andyant - January 24, 2014 4:16 p.m.

    The whole premise of this article changes on that error, as you are not comparing like for like, but you are making out it is a minor change? Very shoddy journalism!
  • GR HollanderCooper - January 24, 2014 4:30 p.m.

    Even with the change, once you take into account the different release dates, they're still closer than the last-gen consoles were at any time in the first few years.
  • Abriael - January 24, 2014 4:43 p.m.

    Yep. Especially considering one launched two years after the other /s :D
  • Errrrbo - January 24, 2014 8:33 p.m.

    I really don't see how 3 million sold and 4.2 million sold is "neck-and-neck", but I guess we don't need to drag this out further. Thanks for making the change.
  • Eightboll812 - January 25, 2014 9:35 a.m.

    At this point in time, the difference in launch dates means very little. It meant a lot if you count how many sold at the end of Nov. It doesn't mean much at the end of the Jan. Even if you time shifted Sony back a week to directly compare, cut off their last week of sales, it cuts only about 200k off the total leaving them still well over a million ahead.
  • Bear266 - January 25, 2014 12:46 p.m.

    I hate to beat a dead horse but man you are way off on this and your article makes you less credible even with the correction since your headline and the rest of the article were not changed to reflect the significant difference in numbers now. Plus, that head start for Sony you mention is only 4 days when you consider Sony reported as of December 28th and Microsoft reported as of December 31st. Surely, no thinks the 4 days would give Microsoft the time to make up the 1.2 million unit difference. Calling it neck and neck is absurd.
  • rtd2 - January 24, 2014 8:45 a.m.

    I'd sooner think you were just lazy here, and not that you have some sort of agenda. please fix this article. as has been said in numerous other comments, the article cited states MS sold 3 million by the end of 2013, and that they shipped to retail 3.9 million. so if you were to do your research its a difference of 3 million to 4.2 million (units sold to consumers). it seems to me that the author decided on a title ("they're neck-and-neck!") and then proceeded to write an article based on that conclusion. if that article you referred us to is accurate, its more like a 25-30% difference by the end of 2013.
  • mikeylawson - January 24, 2014 5:22 a.m.

    Just hop onto memebase videogames. You'll find all the Nintendo guys on there.
  • Leemundo - January 24, 2014 1:36 a.m.

    The actual number of consoles sold to customers means nothing! More people have PS4 consoles, fact. Who has sold the most games, micro transactions, DLC, media content?! I'm guessing Microsoft. I think we should all be glad Sony puts up a decent fight as the billion dollar juggernaught of Microsoft certainly won't be scared of competition with their funding.
  • jh4911 - January 24, 2014 3:50 a.m.

    You seem to imply that Sony is some kind of underdog? They are also a multi-billion dollar, multi-national cooperation. The literal opposite of underdog.
  • Morethan3words - January 24, 2014 2:47 p.m.

    not the literal opposite of underdog, just the opposite of underdog. The literal opposite of underdog would be overdog.
  • jh4911 - January 25, 2014 3:30 a.m.

    Hello.
  • alecj - January 23, 2014 11:20 p.m.

    According to Forbes the total sales/shipped numbers for Sony and Microsoft are a bit misleading because Sony launched 1 week earlier allowing them a head start. This early on, that lead time can skew numbers....BUT.. If you look at the average units sold per day up until the end of 2013 (Dec 28th to be exact)--- Sony-- 75,000 units/day Microsoft-- 55,555 units/day Sony is selling more consoles, and with their home territory of Japan launching in February, their lead is expected to increase. So, you can argue which is better, the PS4 or XBone, but you cant argue which is selling.......better. If you want to see the numbers yourself Google "Forbes" and "Sony, Microsoft" The article literally came out yesterday.
  • jeffrey-stoddard - January 24, 2014 7:52 p.m.

    It's also worth noting that Japan is really the only place Sony has yet to launch. They came outthe gate in what, like 28 countries? Where as MS has only launched Xbox One in 13 countries so far i think. I suspect when MS launches XB1 in those 10+ countries, it will see a significant sales increase worldwide.

Showing 1-20 of 48 comments

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