Console war update! Sony’s winning on the surface, but going a little farther into the numbers suggests a tighter race than is immediately apparent.
We’ll start with consoles sold, since it’s the most obvious measuring stick. Sony has announced that, as of the first week of April, the PlayStation 4 has sold over 7 million units. Based on the NPD numbers from March, the Xbox One is at over 5 million sold – an unmistakable win for Sony in the early going. It’s hard to quantify the effect of all the bad press the Xbox One received after its announcement last year, owing to its online requirements and used game policies that have since been scaled back, but it seems like there’s something to be said about it, looking at the 2 million unit disparity.
That said, it’s well known that profit margins on consoles sold aren’t exactly huge – in fact, consoles have often been sold at a loss in the past. There have been varying reports over whether or not, and to what extent, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are being sold below cost, but in some ways, that’s irrelevant. The point is that Sony and Microsoft rely on game sales as a huge source of profit that serves to offset any losses on consoles sold. That’s what determines the financial success of a console, and in that respect, Microsoft and Sony are about even. The numbers say 20.5 million PlayStation 4 titles have been sold. That’s an average of about 2.9 games per console, which just so happens to be identical to the Xbox One’s average.
Depending on how much of a loss Microsoft and Sony respectively take on their consoles, it’s entirely possible that the Xbox One could be the more successful console right now, in terms of net dollars and cents – take into account that Microsoft takes in money from Xbox Live subscriptions, and you have to wonder which one is really better off so far.