Console manufacturers love boasting about numbers when the numbers are good. That puts them in a tough place, too; they’re expected to tell us when the numbers aren’t so good. When Microsoft figured out the PS4 would continue outselling the Xbox One, they stopped handing out those numbers. They started talking in riddles, instead. They offered how many hours people spent doing super specific stuff on Xbox.
Microsoft even made the products they were talking about harder to discern as time went on. They combined not just the Xbox One and 360, but Windows 10 gaming in some of those reported sales numbers.
But they still love boasting. While they don’t have numbers, Microsoft does have bragging rights. This month, the computing giant took the lead at retail for the third month in a row, beating out Sony. The NPD Group report comes next week, but Microsoft has already announced the triumph. For most of the last three years, Sony claimed the top spot by selling roughly two PS4 consoles for each Xbox One. Microsoft has had a few big months here and there, but this three-month streak is unprecedented.
Microsoft has a long way to go to match Sony’s numbers, but the winds have shifted in their favor the last few months. Microsoft made some good choices while Sony took on some heat. Microsoft’s Xbox One S has been received well after a lot of hemming and hawing about whether it made sense in light of Xbox Scorpio coming next fall. The original Xbox One is ultra cheap as Microsoft tries to empty its stock.
Sony’s PS4 Pro pales in comparison to the promise of the Xbox Scorpio, even though it’s an improvement over the original. The decision to leave out an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive might be a good one for Sony in the long term, but it’s looking to fans like an oversight. Sony’s policies almost kept Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition from getting mods, too. They’ve changed their decision, but these games still won’t have the same level of mods as the Xbox One.
October has a few wild cards that make its outcome a bit foggier. the PlayStation 4 Slim will be on the market a full month, and the PlayStation VR headset is now out on shelves. On Microsoft’s side, they have Forza Horizon 3 for a late September release and Gears of War 4 in early October. Microsoft marketing head Mike Nichols also said that Forza Horizon 3 was the “number one first-party title for September in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.. That’s good for them; but, with so many qualifiers, it’s impossible to tell if it means anything. It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft can keep their lead, or if the holiday season put Sony back on top. Sony will have the power of the PlayStation VR and the PlayStation 4 Pro, the latter coming in November.
Why this matters:
Sony has been dominant throughout this console generation, while Microsoft has struggled. Consumer-friendly programs like Xbox One Backwards Compatibility and Xbox Play Anywhere have helped improve the image of Xbox, but it’s still seen by many as a distant second. Anything that helps slow down Sony and speed up Microsoft is going to be notable at this point, and more competition from Microsoft will mean Sony has to try harder. Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition almost didn’t get mods at all, but fan outcry, increased competition and sharp jabs from Microsoft forced the issue.
Whether you’re an Xbox or PlayStation fan, this should be looked at as a good thing all around.
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