The Xbox One certainly did not get things off on the right foot this generation with a debacle of a reveal and follow-up that turned many gamers off of the Xbox brand completely. Microsoft was able to make a 180 and did away with what everyone hated and managed to win many gamers back luckily. This partially led the system to lag behind the PlayStation 4 in sales almost every month and by a far margin overall, but Microsoft was able to pull out a surprising win in April in the recent NPD announcement. With an already strong holiday lineup even before the upcoming E3 announcements, is Microsoft setting themselves up to take down the goliath that is PlayStation 4 this coming holiday season?
Ever since the first true console wars between the Super Nintendo and Genesis in the ’90s, we have always had constant battles between rival companies in the console gaming space. This has led to the creation of fanboys, hence the website name, and sales numbers have definitely helped the argument for one side over the other. The PS4 has certainly been the winner in that department, with the system far outselling the Xbox One overall, even with the Xbox One leading in monthly NPDs in late 2013.
The fact that the Xbox One cost $100 more from the start, due to the included Kinect, combined with the terrible PR that it received upon being announced made it a very hard sell to many gamers. This led to many jumping ship to the PlayStation 4, after the Xbox 360 was the definitive leader, between it and the PS3, from the beginning of the last generation.
Things got even worse for the Xbox One when reports started to come out that many games that were available for both platforms were inferior on Xbox One. Certain games that were hitting 1080p and 60fps on PS4 just weren’t hitting the mark on Xbox One, some having to be scaled back to 900p and 720p. While this hasn’t gone away, the differences are still there at times, though developers are figuring out how to better utilize the Xbox One’s power.
These early setbacks saw the PlayStation 4 become nearly impossible to find in stores for months, while the Xbox One was readily available. Around the time the PS4 became more available in stores however, Microsoft made the decision to unbundle the Kinect and offer a base Xbox One console for $399. This pseudo price drop did help to drum up sales, but the PS4 managed to still outsell the Xbox One, helped by the launch of Driveclub and exclusive content partnerships with Bungie for Destiny and such, along with the fact that previous Xbox centric franchises like FIFA even shifted more towards PlayStation as well.
Entering the holiday season, the Xbox One had a pretty impressive lineup with Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, while PS4 had essentially nothing exclusive outside of LittleBigPlanet 3, which was also on PS3. Microsoft took it another step further by doing a special holiday price drop to $349, leading to a victory in the November and December NPDs, also likely helped by the exclusive Call of Duty DLC partnership.
After the holidays, Microsoft announced that the price drop was being made permanent, but the PS4 once again took first place and had a few major exclusives with The Order: 1886 and Bloodborne, the latter of which sold quite well. Then came the somewhat surprising announcement last week that the Xbox One had won the April NPDs, with really nothing special coming out during that month. In fact, April was an incredibly slow month all around, except for Mortal Kombat X.
Some have speculated that a special deal that Best Buy had where you could trade in certain Xbox 360 or PS3 consoles and get a Xbox One for only $175 may have played a part, but could it just really be a case of the Xbox One really having some momentum and the two are going neck and neck right now rather than it being a blowout?
I personally do not think the Best Buy deal had enough impact to make a different on the NPDs, as some reports have the PS4 selling 2/3 of what the Xbox One did in April. Even if it did make a difference, it would have had the two consoles being very close in sales for the month at worst.
The newer bundle with Halo: The Master Chief Collection definitely has to help with some sales, as the game is definitely working a lot better these days than it did in the past. The Xbox One hasn’t really had any major exclusives this year thus far, but the future is looking very bright for owners of the system.
Halo 5: Guardians is easily the biggest of the bunch, but we also have a new Forza and all but official Gears of War remaster. They also scored Rise of the Tomb Raider as a timed exclusive, which should be a big seller this holiday season, especially to fill that void left by the delay of the next Uncharted for PS4. We also have a brand new non-Kinect Rare game to be announced that could come later this year and maybe even Scalebound as well. Call of Duty is always a major seller on Xbox consoles and with the Xbox One gaining more popularity, many of those that jumped to the game on PS4 could jump right back with Black Ops III this year, especially if the timed exclusive DLC continues.
In comparison, the PlayStation 4’s upcoming slate is absolutely barren. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and the new Ratchet and Clank have already been delayed and Until Dawn is supposed to be out this summer, though that could easily be pushed back. No Man’s Sky and Tearaway Unfolded are also coming, but we really have no set details on a release for either outside of sometime in 2015. I’m sure they will have plenty of reveals at E3, but just how many can they reveal for a release already later this year. Buzz is everything and typically only Nintendo announces major games and puts them out within the year, while Sony usually reveals their big hitters a little further ahead of time.
Just looking at things as they are right now, the Xbox One definitely has the better slate of exclusives lined up for the rest of 2015, but Sony could definitely blow that wide open at their E3 press conference. However, things are starting to look better for the Xbox One and with yet another strong lineup already set for the fall, with some still yet to be revealed I’m sure, and a cheaper price tag, it is very possible that the Xbox One could continue to gain momentum and continue to win monthly NPDs on their way to narrowing the overall sales gap.