PS4 vs Xbox One: 3 Key Takeaways After 1 Month of Sales


It's been a month since the Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One were released. With the eighth generation of console gaming officially under way, let's check in on how the three top video game console manufacturers have been faring, and what it means for the players going forward.


Earliest availability (region)

Global units sold

Playstation 4

11/15/2013 (North America)

2.37 million

Xbox One

11/22/2013 (North America)

1.84 million

Wii U

11/18/2012 (U.S. & Canada)

4.49 million


The Playstation 4, which debuted a week earlier than the Xbox One, appears destined to finish 2013 on a high note. Meanwhile, Nintendo's struggling console, the Wii U, surged 340% month-over-month in November thanks to the September price drop to $299 and the eagerly anticipated release of Super Mario 3D World.

Unfortunately for Nintendo, that boost might be short lived going into the critical holiday season. In a single month, Sony has already sold more than half the number of consoles that Nintendo was able to sell in an entire year.

Understanding the opinions behind the sales figures

According to new survey data provided by GameSpot Trax, it appears that the Playstation 4 is definitively beating the Xbox One in several key aspects.

GameSpot's survey consists of data from a CBS Interactive audience comprised of core gamers and early adopters, collected between Dec. 5 and Dec. 10. Let's take a look at three takeaways from the survey, and see what it all means for Sony and Microsoft going into 2014.

1. The Playstation 4 is converting more gamers than the Xbox One

First and foremost, Sony has been converting more former Microsoft gamers than the other way around.

Coming from PS3:

Coming from Xbox 360:

Coming from PC:

Playstation 4 buyers:




Xbox One buyers:




Source: GameSpot Trax

The most commonly cited reason for purchasing a PS4 was its lower cost of $399, compared to the Xbox One's $499 price tag. Gamers who purchased an Xbox One preferred the Xbox One's better selection of exclusive launch titles, such as Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising (ed. note: not Dead Island) 3.

It's notable that neither console has been very successful at winning over PC gamers, indicating that there could still be room in the market for Valve's upcoming SteamBox.

2. Games are still the most important feature

Before their releases, there was plenty of debate about the consoles' features.

The Playstation 4, Sony's cheapest console ever created (on an inflation-adjusted basis), initially appeared to be a more bare-bones experience. On closer inspection, however, the Xbox One isn't that much richer in features than the cheaper Playstation 4.

The Playstation 4 can't play audio CDs, MP3s, or stream media over a DNLA home network out of the box -- but Sony has promised that support will be added in a future software update. The Xbox One, by comparison, can perform all three tasks out of the box, although MP3 support is limited to streaming from a PC with Windows 8 installed.

Microsoft also added voice and Kinect gesture support to the Xbox One. Sony's additional PS4 camera ($60) adds voice command and facial recognition, although it currently lacks gesture support. However, Belgium company Softkinetic announced earlier this month that it will bring Kinect-like gesture controls to the PS4 via the PS4 camera.

In other words, the features that made the Xbox One more attractive at launch might not remain exclusive strengths much longer.

Microsoft's Kinect (top) vs. Sony's PS4 Camera (bottom). Source:

Despite all those bells and whistles, according to GameSpot's GameTrax 96% and 90% of PS4 and Xbox One users, respectively, use the console for gaming. Only 52% of PS4 users and 57% of Xbox One users report watching movies on their consoles.

Moreover, the data from GameTrax shows among buyers who recommended against purchasing an Xbox One, the Kinect and the $499 price tag were the top two reasons to not buy one. In fact, only 76% of surveyed users had used the Kinect, which was intended to be a key feature, on their new Xbox Ones.

By comparison, a lack of compelling launch titles and incomplete functionality were the two top reasons to not buy a PS4. Both those weaknesses could be rectified in the coming year.

3. PS4 buyers buy more games

Since the PS4 was sold at a lower price, Sony is counting on it to achieve a higher software attach rate than the Xbox One.

The PS4 reportedly cost $381 to make, meaning Sony only made $18 per unit. By comparison, the Xbox One cost $471 to make, giving Microsoft a $28 profit per unit. Therefore, the fact that PS4 gamers purchased one more game (27% more) than Xbox One gamers should be troubling for Microsoft.

Playstation 4

Xbox One

Games purchased

- Physical discs



- Digital retail downloads



- Digital-only games



Source: GameSpot Trax

Sony's key strength was in digital-only games, while Xbox One users slightly favored the older format of digital discs.

It's also interesting to note that of the top five games on the Xbox One, two were exclusive titles. Forza Motorsport came in at number 3 with 550,000 units sold, and Dead Rising 3 came in at number 5 with 440,000 units.

Of the top five PS4 titles, only one -- Killzone: Shadow Fall -- was an exclusive title. Killzone came in at number 2 with 790,000 units sold. The top game on both consoles was Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty: Ghosts, which has sold 840,000 units on the Xbox One and 1.02 million units on the PS4.

That software attach rate will inevitably shift next year as new titles are released and more gamers upgrade to the two new consoles, but Sony has apparently gotten off to a more promising start.

Looking ahead into 2014

These early figures appear to favor Sony, but Microsoft's 1.84 million units sold so far shouldn't be taken lightly -- especially considering that both consoles haven't been fully launched worldwide yet.

In 2014, I expect that Sony's pricing strategy will continue paying off, and possibly force Microsoft to lower its price to remain competitive. We'll also see if Microsoft's clear attempt to take over the living room will work out any better than previous, unsuccessful attempts to merge computing with television. We'll also see if Valve's SteamBox, which is scheduled to arrive next year, can convert those PC users who don't appear interested in either the PS4 or the Xbox One.

What's your take on the battle between the PS4 and the Xbox One in 2014? Let me know in the comments section below!

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