If you caught my Only Speaking Professionally article last week, you might have realised that I am not a big fan of asynchronous global launches. If you didn’t catch my Only Speaking Professionally article last week, the short version is: asynchronous global launches are dumb and should be stopped, also you should read it because I wrote words and they’re there to be read.
Now that you’ve caught up, here are the numbers.
Xbox One sold one million units in the first day of release.
Playstation 4 sold one million units in the first day of release.
Xbox One sold one million units worldwide.
Playstation 4 sold one million units in North America.
These numbers prove two things – one, next generation consoles are extremely popular with consumers, leading to record breaking console launch numbers for both platforms. Two, Playstation 4 is wildly more popular with consumers in North America than the Xbox One. We know this because in North America alone, the PS4 has sold a million units, while its Microsoft competitor has shifted one million units throughout the entire world.
The numbers currently support the idea that the first console to launch will shift more units day one. Most people tend to treat consoles differently to game software. A console is an investment, a long-term dividend. Of those buying consoles, a majority seem to buy one console close to launch and wait a little while before purchasing another, especially with a one week window between launches. After all, nearly a grand is a lot of money to spend on two items in one week for a lot of people. In North America, Sony took the advantage by launching first. Those eager to adopt the latest tech no doubt jumped at the opportunity to experience next-gen gaming and snaffled up the Sony offering, and then deciding to wait on getting an Xbox One due to the expense.
This explains why the disparity between day one sales exists – people already spent their money on a PS4, so they don’t need an Xbox One just yet.
What is interesting, though, is that in the rest of the world, the release dates are flipped. Next week, Playstation 4 releases globally, and I am very much interested in seeing what the figures are for units sold through to consumers day one worldwide for Sony’s new console. Will Xbox One’s week early release globally mean that early adopters have jumped on the Xbox One already? Will people not buy a PS4 because they already have a One?
I don’t know yet, but when the sales figures inevitably get released, I am betting that the PS4 will sell proportionally fewer units compared to the Xbox One in regions other than North America.
I’m not saying the PS4 won’t sell well – it obviously will. But whether the PS4 will sell such an overwhelming majority in comparison to the Xbox One in other countries is a question I really can’t wait to see answered.
I think Sony missed a massive opportunity in failing to release the PS4 simultaneously around the world. I think that if they had, they’d completely dominate the sales charts globally. I think that Sony would have been able to definitively “win” this round of the console wars, just by making its release global.
Of course, one company “winning” the console wars is a bad thing, since it creates a monopoly and stifles creativity and stagnates the market and all that lovely stuff I’ve already ranted about a while back. In my ideal world, both the Xbox One and the PS4 would have released on the same date simultaneously world-wide, and the inherent differences in the consoles (price, performance, features, target market interest) would have distributed the audience in a way that ignores market forces. Much fairer for consumers and both companies. But yeah, that would never ever happen.
Still, one can dream.
I’ll definitely be looking very carefully at the sales trends come next week.