After Sony announced that the PlayStation had sold 2.1 million units worldwide, we've been waiting to see if Microsoft could match the feat. Today, the company revealed that the Xbox One has sold 2 million systems worldwide, just 18 days out from its November 22 launch in 13 countries. In contrast, Sony took 17 days to reach its milestone with a launch in 32 countries.
All in all the numbers are really close and it's a great start for both consoles, but the truth is we're still in the early part of these console launches. The straggling PlayStation Vita cleared 1.2 million units worldwide six days after its Western launch on February 22, 2012, with around half of those being sold from the beginning of the Japanese launch on December 17, 2011. Despite that start, the Vita isn't lighting up the charts currently.
Like many system launches, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are currently supply-constrained, meaning consumers are buying systems as fast as Microsoft and Sony can ship them. But this time around, both companies spent a great deal of time manufacturing systems earlier in the year to have a surplus on retail shelves this holiday. This is pushing the numbers well ahead of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 within the same window, but it's hard to glean any insight into which system will definitively pull ahead. Currently, systems come in, systems get sold.
"Sales of both platforms are basically on par with each other," said Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Colin Sebastian told Bloomberg. "Production seems to be roughly the same for both platforms and they're both doing well at retail."
In an investor's note, Sebastian said Robert W. Baird & Co. expect both systems to reach their 3 million unit sales forecast for 2013. He also estimated that tomorrow's NPD Group numbers for November will show sales of 1.3 - 1.4 million PS4s and 800,000 - 900,000 Xbox One's. Outside of anecdotal evidence - your local store having more Xbox One's/PlayStation 4's - current information is pointing to the PS4 having a lead, but nothing like the absolute drubbing we would've expected after E3 2013. Sony's lead could widen once the PS4 launches in Japan, but that's still two months away.
As Jeremy previously said, the next-generation is a marathon, not a sprint. The PlayStation 3 started off behind the Xbox 360, due to that $599 price tag and the extra year of experience developers had the with the 360, but you wouldn't know it now: both systems sit at around 80 million units sold after years of price drops, exclusives, new versions, and service improvements. Nintendo seems to be out of the game at the moment with the Wii U, but things could change. Super Mario 3D World wasn't the magic bullet, but perhaps Mario Kart 8 will succeed where it failed?
All three companies are still in the game and none of them can just sit back and relax. We need more games, system OS improvements, and better services. Developers need to get in there and really show us what the systems can do. No one is coming out of the gate perfectly, so there's room for everyone to grow. I'm excited to see where Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo will take us.