2 million – that’s the latest number that Microsoft has given for global Xbox One sales. Last week, Sony came out with a 2.1 million figure. But one analyst claimed this week that the Xbox One was being outsold 3 to 1 in the US whilst another saw their sales as “relatively balanced”, the Xbox One launched later in the States and earlier in the UK and Europe, and neither manufacturer has put its reputation on the line by outright claiming to be ahead. What do the number tell us? How close is this race, so far, and how much will it matter for the next year?
The two consoles’ launch sales presented an interesting puzzle: a series of numbers that have to be pieced together to make sense. The PS4’s US-only launch on November 15th resulted in more than 1 million sales in 24 hours, whereas the Xbox One’s launch – in 13 countries – also generated “more than 1 million” sales in 24 hours. That put them neck-and-neck in terms of pure sales, but the Xbox behind the PS4 in the States. Interestingly, neither company has outright claimed the title of the “best-selling console launch of all time” – a title that must surely belong to one or the other of them. The previous record holder, the Wii, sold a million in its first few days, but stock quickly ran out.
What we’re comparing, then, is one global launch in 19 countries with a staggered launch in 32 countries (and it’s rumoured that the Xbox One launch in the remaining European countries may be pushed further back into 2014). It’s in no way a direct comparison. Looking at individual countries, the PS4 is ahead in the UK (where it became the country’s fastest-selling console ever, selling 250,000 to the Xbox One’s estimated 160,000), but the situation may well be more even in the US –one analyst claims that the PS4 might have sold 66% more during November than the Xbox One, which would put the gap in line with the UK, but based on the overall numbers (especially this new 2 million figure from Microsoft) I find that difficult to believe