When the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One launched last November, everyone expected it to be a close race. If anything, Microsoft had a slight advantage coming off of an enormously successful near-decade with the Xbox 360, but eight months later, Sony is so far out in front that the lead seems insurmountable. So how did the PS4 become an international smash hit, doubling the sales of the Xbox One month after month?
Abigail Elise at the International Business Times has explored the issue in depth, quoting industry analysts and executives to help put the console war into context and explain Sony’s unexpected success.
“Hats off to Sony, they’ve had a great start; they have been in more countries and – to date, at least – at a lower price,” Microsoft Corporate VP Phil Harrison said in a recent interview with Edge Magazine. “We have announced a new Xbox One at a lower price; we go to 29 new countries starting in September.”
The decision to unbundle the Kinect from the Xbox One was necessary for the console’s continued growth. Based on the latest data from VGChartz (not always the most reliable source, but one of the only sources for weekly global sales numbers), Xbox One hardware sales were up +14% this week to 71,311 while PS4 sales dipped -1% to 98,450.
Price has clearly been an element of the PS4’s dominance over the past several months, but analysts believe that Sony’s marketing strategy has been stronger than Microsoft’s as well.
“Gaming is inherently social and Sony is being smart by empowering their users and soliciting feedback via social channels,” said Nicky Yates, Director of Communications at Buzz Radar. “While the games will always be the main driver, smart social integration and marketing raises the PS4’s prominence. The more we talk about it, the more people want to be on that platform.”
Beyond social media interaction, Sony has flat-out spent more money on advertising since launch. More people see Sony’s ads, which could make or break a purchasing decision for an on-the-fence consumer.
Microsoft and Sony are both going to have very busy holidays, but Microsoft is going to have to pull out all the stops to slow Sony’s meteoric rise as the console of choice for the new generation.