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.

Henry Gilbert

Henry Gilbert is a former GamesRadar+ Editor, having spent seven years at the site helping to navigate our readers through the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Henry is now following another passion of his besides video games, working as the producer and podcast cohost of the popular Talking Simpsons and What a Cartoon podcasts.