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Sony sells seven million PS4s, but what about Microsoft?

What a difference a console generation makes, huh? Six months into the launch of the PS3, Sony had barely cleared 3.5 million units, and today, less than five months after the PS4’s global launch, the hardware manufacturer has announced global sales of over seven million PlayStation 4 systems. That’s an impressive number, particularly given all the Debbie Downers that say consoles are dying, but it does make Microsoft’s relative silence on hardware sales feel deafening by comparison. Why aren’t we hearing similar stats about the Xbox One?

Let’s explore the most obvious assumption first--Microsoft doesn’t have any good news to share. If the company had sold even 7,000,001 Xbox Ones by this point, you can bet there’d be a press release about it. Instead, Microsoft hasn’t had much to say about Xbox One sales since announcing in January that the company had sold 3.9 million next-gen consoles, a total that was already trailing behind the PS4 at the time.

The lack of an official update from Microsoft feels even stranger given that March saw the launch of Titanfall, the Xbox One’s only major exclusive for the first half of the year. The game had a huge advertising budget behind it and was reviewed well, but there’s a conspicuous absence of the usual glowing PR announcements that follow games of its size. I expected to see press releases saying “Titanfall boosted Xbox One sales such-and-such percent,” or “Titanfall is the fastest-selling new IP since blah-blah,” but I haven’t seen anything of the sort. Again, my mind naturally jumps to the conclusion that the lack of good news means Microsoft is keeping the bad news to itself.

However, the timing of this news could be something bigger than the current console wars. The PS4 vs. Xbox One battle is just part of two giant corporations that are going through massive restructuring, Sony more so than Microsoft. Sony recently made some drastic changes, including selling off its PC business along with its offices in Tokyo and New York City to try to post a profit for the fiscal year. The company even sold off its stock in Square Enix after Sony had been a major shareholder for over a decade. These are moves made by a company in need of capital and positive buzz.

This announcement of high sales for the PS4 could have less to do with Sony posturing towards Microsoft and more about Sony trying to impress its investors. PlayStation 4’s success is some of the best news that Sony has had in years, so why not shout it to the Heavens. And if it embarrasses the silent competition at the same time, all the better.

Whatever Sony’s reasoning, the ball is in Microsoft’s court now. If the Seattle-based manufacturer was holding back awesome sales news about Titanfall until now, the company needs to start shouting about it now. And if the Home of Windows is starting to trail behind Sony by a wide margin, it’d be better for MS to just be honest about the situation and embrace its underdog status. Microsoft has been digging itself out of a hole since the Xbox One was announced, and I think it’ll get out faster if it isn’t working hard to hide underwhelming sales.

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28 comments

  • myassishappy - April 21, 2014 2:40 p.m.

    To be honest, I don't think Microsoft sold seven million PS4's...
  • qualopec_1 - April 18, 2014 3:22 p.m.

    I think this time around the rolls are reversed, Sony learned from their mistakes and a little bit of humbleness doesn't hurt anybody. MS got too confident and arrogant unfortunately under the misguidance of Don Mattrick, not realizing that in this industry all companies are like leaves on a tree and if their not careful, they will end up falling to the ground. Luckily with Phil Spencer now at the helm who seems like an intelligent guy, they can turn it around and fix the damage that Mattrick has caused. And remember a little bit of humbleness doesn't hurt anyone. One of the first things MS needs to do, is to lower the price of the console which is one of the reasons they are hurting the most.
  • Eightboll812 - April 19, 2014 1:09 p.m.

    I agree with your assessment. I would just add that humility that ends in just words is not real humility. It needs to translate to concrete actions. For one, changing the policy on the paywall, would earn a lot of goodwill. I really still can't rationalize how it is acceptable to charge an online fee to use a browser ("IE for chrissake) and third party apps that I already pay a subscription to use. My smartphone, tablet, pretty d@mn near anything I own, can run Netflix and a browser and doesn't charge me a subscription fee to use. (ms fanboys, please spare me the "Adam Orth" style arguments in response about cell phone network fees or whatever...I'm not paying Google a separate fee for using Android online). It's such an outdated policy, and it's not like people are going to go cancel their Gold accounts in response, since most will probably still want to game online. But changing the policy will show that just maybe, they are in it for "me" rather than their own pockets getting deeper. At risk of going too far off tangent, you buy a full price game at $60 and then there are microtransactions in the game on top of that... It's starting to feel more like dealing with a bank than a game console company...fees on top of fees and more fees and transaction fees on top of the fee. Really. I can't stomach it. Sony's headed that way too, but thankfully not near as far along down the cash register path. MS reversing some of that would change my perception. It would at least show me real humility rather than spoken humility.
  • Doctalen - April 19, 2014 2:10 p.m.

    I wish I could like your post since you've described all of the reasons minus one as to why I don't like Microsoft at the moment. The reason I don't like Microsoft at the moment is because under Mattrick the Xbox One had the possibility to do all of these draconian stuff disguised as being good for the consumer. I.E sharing games digitally but then almost completely killing lending physical copies, Kinect responding to your every word and movement but then using that info to target Ads to you (seriously though Gold should remove those fuckers, if I'm going to pay for a service I'd better not see Ads all over the dashboard). While I believe that they learend from being torn a new one by Sony at E3 for doing the exact opposite of these policies, I feel like the pace at which they changed these policies means it could as simple as entering a single command to reverse their reversal. That potential, even if its some neckbearded conspiracy theory only I believe scares the living shit out of me.
  • Eightboll812 - April 19, 2014 6:08 p.m.

    You aren't wrong or paranoid for thinking that. Or I should say you are rightfully paranoid about a legitimate concern ;-) There's two ways you could analyze this. If you take MS' statements at face value, that they really, honestly were just looking out for gamers, trying to give us what we want, and were really taken off guard by the backlash at these pro-consumer policies they were trying to push, then you have to worry, will they try to "help us out" again in the future, lol. The pleading ignorance excuse, to me is almost more worrisome. How could they not see people would be upset about used game blocking. The internet has been floating these rumors for years and the reaction was never, not once, positive. So they were blissfully ignorant and "oops, mea culpa". That's why I don't buy the "pleading ignorance" response, but even if I bought it, it brings me no comfort. Or if you take it as MS was trying to pull a fast one on the gaming community, it shows intent. They played their ace card, showed their hand, so to speak, how they want the living room to play out. They want it full of shackles and fees if you believe there was malicious intent. And even though they reversed, people don't give up their dreams so easily. The question is, when will they try something like this again, not if. Will it be the gen after this one? Will it be once they catch up to PS4 in sales? When? It's not like this is out of character for MS either. For decades, MS has been running companies out of markets and then milking the near monopoly like a cash cow. It's not like anyone has to even search hard for at least 2-3 easy to cite examples. Lest people think I'm being too unfair to MS, I have a very rocky relationship with Sony over the years as well, going back to the Discman. I just fear them far less than MS these days.
  • Cinaclov - April 18, 2014 7:43 a.m.

    "Sony sells seven million PS4s, but what about Microsoft?" Can't imagine Microsoft are selling that many PS4s tbh.
  • TheCakeIsaPie - April 18, 2014 11:56 a.m.

    What you did there, I saw it.
  • Shigeruken - April 17, 2014 11:36 p.m.

    Retailers are selling the Xbox One at PS4 retail here in New Zealand, often with Titanfall or another game included. The console is not selling well here, which isn't surprising considering Microsoft's internet bound vision and our countries laughably ruthless internet service providers. Throw the complete lack of support for kinect voice commands, little or no media apps or options, inflated rrp of digital games (despite rarely paying our government's sales tax), and lack of nearby cloud servers. Right now there simply isn't any value to owning the console if you live outside of the three or four countries Microsoft actually cares about. Unless you break Xbox Live's terms of service by changing your account region to the USA so you can access kinect voice functions and the US store. After that a US dns will let you access all geographically locked media apps. In case anyone is wondering, Kinect voice commands with my USA region account work 100% fine for me. Whether I'm speaking normally or with an American accent doesn't seem to make any difference. I seem to have a lot less trouble with it than most of the Americans I know. Microsoft has never made a sincere attempt to pretend that they are trying to cater to New Zealand, whereas Sony has at least made some effort to provide us with the same level of service they provide to the UK. Meanwhile Microsoft and Nintendo like to make it clear that they do not care about our money.
  • ObliqueZombie - April 17, 2014 8:49 p.m.

    I do find it strange I haven't heard much from Respawn OR Microsoft about either Titanfall or Xbox One. Only Sony, as you said, shouting to the high heavans about its console, Second Son (with some impressive post-launch updates, equal to what we see in PCs), and PS+. I'm pretty sure Microsoft is keeping some juicy stuff under wraps, but yeah, they should probably break the dam and get some more info and PR out there, just to stir the masses. As it stands, I will be enjoying none of Microsoft's stuff for a good, long while.
  • jrob23 - April 17, 2014 10:57 a.m.

    With China beginning to enter the electronics manufacturing business Sony is getting out of that business. They will focus on PS4 and Sony pictures both of which are insulated from China's expansion. In 5 years there will be Chinese TV makers, blu ray players, phones, etc that will hit the American market and with their cheaper input costs, will supplant Japan as the Koreans are doing now. It's actually smart what Sony is doing. Maybe a tad late in my opinion but not too late which is important. Neither Microsoft or Nintendo has these problems and are rich in cash. All three are really different from one another so comparing their financial positions makes no sense
  • mbavalo - April 17, 2014 8:15 a.m.

    Despite the fact that I would only buy a PS4 at this point in time, I don't want Xbox to fail. The competition between the two is what we as the consumers benefit from, and if Sony was left as the only console manufacturer, I don't think things would go all too well
  • Eightboll812 - April 19, 2014 1:13 p.m.

    I don't want it to fail either. I want the original vision to fail, MS to make further changes and thrive as a result. I don't think they've reached the proper pain point to make the last few required changes. Hopefully soon.
  • mbavalo - April 19, 2014 1:23 p.m.

    Haha, quite true.. I wonder what they think of Don Mattrick now after he almost killed Xbox...
  • tomthespesh - April 17, 2014 5:22 a.m.

    The part of this article saying Microsoft haven't posted any figures relating to Titanfall is a bit off. Didn't they say it boosted UK XBone sales by 95% ? Or was that just an expected figure?
  • GR_HenryGilbert - April 17, 2014 7:35 a.m.

    Sorry, I was talking about global figures or at least US sales numbers. It is true it upped it in the UK
  • qualopec_1 - April 18, 2014 10:35 p.m.

    Yes but PS4 is selling in 42 markets around the world and Xbone only on 13, also PS4 is king in Japan and will go on uncontested which is a huge help. Xbone will never lead in Japan.
  • Eightboll812 - April 19, 2014 1:16 p.m.

    Xbone is available virtually everywhere via "imports". Supposedly not available in Sweden. I can find Swedish online retailers selling it online. It's delay to officially sell in the same countries certainly hurts, but we aren't talking rich countries that are MS strongholds here. We are talking countries like Bolivia and Czech Republic and Slovakia and Oman and Kuwait. These make up some of the countries Sony is selling in that MS is not.
  • gerygorenshtein - April 17, 2014 3:05 a.m.

    I don't see how it's a bad thing to be behind, it already sold 4m units, so that's a 4m potential clients for games
  • taokaka - April 17, 2014 2:20 a.m.

    "Sony sells seven million PS4s, but what about Microsoft?" Sony is thrashing Microsoft in that department, Microsoft has failed to sell a single PS4 to date
  • P0ck3tC1am - April 17, 2014 2:31 a.m.

    It's allllll about wording....

Showing 1-20 of 28 comments

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