Microsoft finally dethroned Sony in the U.S. console war during November. But is this a temporary blip or the start of a new trend?
As GeekWire reported on Thursday, Microsoft outpaced Sony last month, selling 1.2 million Xbox One consoles in the U.S. as the critical holiday shopping season began.
Sony’s Playstation 4 had topped the Xbox One in each of the previous 10 months. Both consoles launched in November 2013.
But whether Microsoft can continue to beat Sony in the console war remains to be seen.
In the past few months, Microsoft has cut the price of its console by $50 to $349 without the Kinect sensor. (The PS4 still retails at $399, the same price since launch.) In addition, Microsoft has offered an array of bundle deals that allowed gamers to buy an Xbox One for as low as $250.
“Hardware bundles were a major factor in the sales of hardware this November, with a number of new bundles ranking as the highest selling hardware bundles so far this year with one bundle ranking as the highest selling hardware bundle ever based on dollar sales,” said Liam Callahan, NPD Group analyst, in an email announcing the firm’s market research for the month.
Microsoft’s aggressive pricing may have won over gamers who were still on the fence about purchasing a next-generation console. The big question is whether Microsoft can sustain that momentum, or if the record month in November was primarily a function of the deals offered for the holiday season.
Another question is what the Xbox One sales would have been if Microsoft had sold the console for less than the PS4 from the get go. But still, even at a $499 introductory price — including the Kinect, which Microsoft later decided to un-bundle from the console — the company managed to sell 908,000 units in December 2013 in the U.S. That was the last time Microsoft beat Sony for monthly consoles sales in the U.S. before last month.
Another important note: The rankings released by NPD this week are not worldwide sales. For those stats, we typically have to wait for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to release their quarterly results early next year.
Here’s what the worldwide sales figures looked like through the third quarter of this year.
Microsoft disclosed the 1.2 million U.S. unit sales for the Xbox One in November response to a question from GeekWire. Sony, for the record, declined to disclose its PS4 sales for November, but issued the following statement.
We are thrilled with the incredible momentum seen at retail heading into the holiday shopping season. PS4 is the cumulative leader in hardware sales and was #1 on the Amazon Video Games Bestseller list on Black Friday. On the network side, November was the biggest month ever in PlayStation Store history with a nearly 50 percent increase in unique visitors compared to last year. We couldn’t have done any of this without the support of our fans. The immediate success of PlayStation Experience and celebration of the 20th Anniversary demonstrates tremendous dedication to the PlayStation platform. We are humbled by the loyalty of our fans and look forward to amazing them in 2015.
And this was Microsoft’s statement on the month.
“We are committed to making Xbox the best place to play, with this year’s best games, the best community of gamers to play with, and terrific value. And we are amazed by the excitement Xbox fans have shown to start off this holiday. November set a new record for sales of Xbox One, and Xbox One was the best-selling console in the US and UK.* Response to the holiday lineup of games on Xbox One was incredible, with Xbox One fans buying more games in November in the U.S. than any other gen eight platform and enjoying over 357 million hours of gameplay globally. In fact, more fans logged intoXbox Live across Xbox One and Xbox 360, and enjoyed more entertainment, than any other month in the history ofXbox. We love to see the excitement from our fans and are grateful for their passion, support and contributions to the Xbox community.”