PlayStation 4 Outsold Xbox One Over the Holidays in the U.S.

Posted on January 13, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox One with 56 Comments

PlayStation 4 Outsold Xbox One Over the Holidays in the U.S.

Despite continuous sales from the Black Friday weekend through the end of the year, Xbox One was still outsold by PlayStation 4 in December in the U.S.

And I’m honestly a bit surprised by that. It was very clear that Microsoft had hoped to continue its late 2016 winning streak through the holidays, given how steeply it discounted its flagship console.

But that did not happen. The NPD Group—which I know from my sources is Microsoft’s trusted source for retail sales data in the United States—says that the PS4 came out on top. Actually, the PS4 came out on top in November, too, so Sony won the holidays.

If there is a silver lining in all this—and you know me, I’m always looking for the good news in that pile of shit—it’s that Xbox One somehow outsold PS4 over the second half of 2016. This means that Microsoft’s consecutive wins in July, August, September, and October had a nice impact. And that even though Xbox One didn’t win November or December, it still did quite well.

Microsoft confirmed as much when it responded to the NPD revelations.

“December was the biggest month ever for Xbox One sales in the U.S., and Xbox One was the only [current-generation] console with year-over-year growth, according to NPD,” the Microsoft statement notes. “In addition, Xbox One was the top-selling console over the second half of 2016, following the announcement of Xbox One S at E3.”

That is a much more positive outcome than the entire two and a half year period that preceded the second half of 2016. If I’m not mistaken Xbox One came out on top in only two of those 32 months. But it won 4 of the last 6.

By the way, Sony announced last week that it has now sold over 53 million PlayStation 4 consoles. I had hoped that if Microsoft had had a strong enough quarter, we’d get some hard numbers, but given these results, I don’t expect that.

 

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Comments (57)

57 responses to “PlayStation 4 Outsold Xbox One Over the Holidays in the U.S.”

  1. Avatar

    5486

    You can almost feel MS struggling to sh*t out anything positive at all about the Xbox One. Really, it's excruciating to read their posts. It's the 'second console' of this generation. It's lost. Game over. If anything, people held off buying the PS4 as the Pro was imminent, but now we're back to normal.

    Just watch XB1 sales fall off a cliff if/when MS announce the Scorpio release date!

  2. Avatar

    2037

    Microsoft should stop straining to find numbers to show how successful its Xbox division. How many times can they tell us how many hours have been played? Microsoft should stick to a simple message that tells consumers why they should buy an Xbox.

  3. Avatar

    5592

    So it really comes down to fans on either side picking which numbers they want to talk about.

    2016 - Sony

    1H - Sony
    2H - Microsoft

    1Q - Sony
    2Q - Sony
    3Q - Microsoft
    4Q - Sony

    Apparently Microsoft's 3rd Quarter sales were enough to overwhelm Sony's 4th Quarter sales lead to win the entire second half.
    Apparently Sony's 1st Half sales were enough to overwhelm Microsoft's 2nd Half sales lead to win the entire year.

    In neither case is there a massive leader.

     

    • Avatar

      10177

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      It's the internet.  We can make a religious war out of Cheetos vs. Cheddar popcorn. 

      Consumers benefit when both the PlayStation and the Xbox do well.  If 80% or more of the market had only one console, the winner would start jacking up the prices, cutting warranties, and reducing investment in customer service and infrastructure.

      My kids have a PS4, they love it, they play multiplayer with their friends that have a PS4.  Some of their other friends have the Xbox One, love it, and play lots of multiplayer with friends that have Xbox Ones.  There aren't enough Xbox exclusives for us to buy one, but if we had bought the Xbox first there are not enough PlayStation exclusives to make us buy one either.

      But nooo, let's sit here and insult each other.

  4. Avatar

    9201

    Its simple PS4 is considered the better Gaming console by hard core gamers, throughout 2015 and going into 2016. Original XBox One is simply inferior and not Games centered. No surprise that PS4 outsold XBox One by 2x, especially with the Microsoft narrow US centric aptitudes on Xbox services. Those feint lies about Xbox One S outselling PS4 last Autumn, maybe only in very short term, were due to dip in gamers waiting for PS4 Pro.

    At least the Xbox One S, is a nice looking machine, is now on reasonable par with PS4 Pro, so its surely getting close to the PS4 sales figures.    

  5. Avatar

    3180

    That's just crazy!  IMO Xbox is hands-down the better console option. (but we all know what opinions are like).  However, I do kind of like Xbox as the "scrappy underdog".  It tends to force Microsoft to keep adding features like Backwards Compat. & 4K Blu-ray.  As long as they sell enough to wanna keep making consoles, I'm fine with second place.

  6. Avatar

    4288

    A few environmental factors. 1) Other bluray players capable for 4K HDR came out.

    2) PS Pro is out this year and many will delay for Xbox Scorpio next year.

    Microsoft is well positioned via UWP to release a new console every couple of years but let developers keep the addressable base as all consoles from Xbox One onwards. The same will not be as true for Sony (still true but not so seamlessly). You just don't get nth-degree optimisation in this strategy.

  7. Avatar

    1292

    A bit surprising as they seemingly had all the momentum coming into the holiday season. Considering Sony launched two new PS kits in the second half of 2016, one being a more powerful console, I guess beating them overall during that time means something. 

  8. Avatar

    5361

    Hardware sales is one thing, but for Microsoft the big bucks comes from the monthly xbox gold and licensing deals.  So the user base count is what really matters in this game.   And MSFT has that over Sony in spades.  

     

  9. Avatar

    456

    All I know is that every time I try a PS I hate the controller so much i stop using it.  Xbox controller (even more so the elite) just is 100% better in my opinion.  That alone is enough for me to buy xbox over ps every time regardless of games etc....

  10. Avatar

    8252

    My 15 year old daughter just bought a PS4 on her own research for games available and annual membership vs. XB1S.

  11. Avatar

    5767

    Honestly I feel Xbox is in existential trouble here. They literally are a regional console(US/UK/Mexico). XBox literally does not sell in EU or Japan at ALL. It's has 1/3 of the exclusives of PS4, plus the annoying dude-bro culture of XBox Live and the fact that a lot of people just don't like Microsoft.

    I fail to see what can be done about this other than address the main issue head on which I feel the MS board has no interest in. They only keep XBox around for shits and giggles at this point.

    • Avatar

      2354

      In reply to MutualCore:

      Can we drop the bullshit "ps4 has more exclusives" thing.

      Be honest about it and change that to 'exclusives people want to play' and the systems are pretty much head to head.  Sure, sony has bucketloads of crap titles that sell well under 20K copies each and generally only in their entrenched markets like Japan, but other than that huge pile of limited guff, they have only 2-3 franchise exclusives that people actually buy.

      All of sony's best hype and reliance on the biased media pimping The Last Guardian went for naught as it sold less than MS's zombie beat'em up game Dead Rising 4, even though DR4 was available on around half the consoles Guardians was.

      And sony's own 7.4 games/console numbers are dwarfed by the equivalent numbers for the xbox (at least the last time both companies made those numbers public in the same timeframe) being more than double the number of game sales despite a 1:2 disadvantage in systems.  Thats quite literally 4 times as many games sold for XB1 thus 4 times the profits (license fees) per game.

      Meanwhile Sony is selling off assets and buildings to help keep the lights on, and amalgamating divisions.  The PS division is pretty much the only profitable part of the company now and thats worrying.

      If sony drop the ball we'll have only 1 enthusiast console maker (nintendo don't even enter into the equation) and thats bad for everyone.

  12. Avatar

    2175

    lol Microsoft will never change the tide by discounting. They need to change the overall identity of the brand of Xbox. Even at their best they may never catch Sony in worldwide sales, but that's ok. Discounting is great for value. But it can hurt your brand because you condition potential buyers to wait for the next deal.

    Console ownership is somewhat determined by mob mentality; wherever your friends are, there you go. The early lead which PS4 gained created a flow on effect that is very difficult to change. A buyer once may never be a buyer again. Someone who buys a PS4 may never buy another console until the next generation release. So you've lost that buyer for another 5 years. So when you have less exclusive games, a system which has less power - even only marginally less - than your main rival, and your brand identity took a massive hit during the early days, it is very hard to come back from that

  13. Avatar

    2354

    If one compares sales of alike-priced models though, xbox sold more than sony by some margin.

    Lumping the PS4Pro in with the regular and slim sales despite the significant price difference is almost disingenuous.

  14. Avatar

    1243

    Honestly, they blew the launch in 2013, and there is no coming back in the fickle, feeble-minded gaming world. You get one chance, and then you're done. 
    I've used both Xbox One and PS4, and the One is definitely light years ahead in terms of operating system design and implementation. That is the main reason I prefer it. Most of the games I want to play are on all systems or are Xbox exclusive. 
    Enjoy what you enjoy and who cares about the rest. 

    • Avatar

      1777

      In reply to pwrof3:

      I keep hearing Xbox One fans talking about the OS. What does it matter? You power the console up and play your game. I find the simplicity of the PS4 very welcoming in that regard.

      I do agree with your last statement to enjoy what you enjoy. We agree there.

      • Avatar

        1243

        In reply to Skolvikings:

        You know, it's hard to pinpoint. The PS4 just seems awkward to navigate. I feel like I have to work to get to my content or to what I want to do. 

        With the Xbox One, I feel like it is intuitive and I can easily access all my content. 

        It could just be because I've been using Microsoft software for my entire life. 

        • Avatar

          2354

          In reply to pwrof3:

          Unfortunately its not nearly as easy now as it was at launch.

          The Sony UI is nice and fast, but its a mess.  The opposite for the xbox UI.  Pressing the guide button shouldn't have me waiting up to 8 seconds for the menus to appear.

      • Avatar

        2354

        In reply to Skolvikings:

        The OS matters quite a bit along with the APIs used.  Remember how the majority of games actually run slightly worse on the PS4Pro than the original consoles despite it being a little bit more than 2x the power, and after patches from the game devs?  Thats because of the OS and the way games are allowed to use resources on the PS platform.  Sony locked things down and relied more on a fixed specification than a scalable software and OS.

        Now look at the noticeable improvements xbox games saw when played on the One S over the XB Fat, with a mere 7% speed bump.  The Direct X API allows better scaling and utilization of resources with no developer patching or input needed at all.

        None of that helps when one system is 30% lower spec than the other, but isn't it telling that even with that 30% deficit, gaming quality is roughly equal at this point.

        Both systems are good, but both are underpowered compared to the leaps the 360 and PS3 had over their direct predecessors.  Without stupid benchmarks and apologetics from the gaming media (digital foundry for example), you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference at all during gameplay.

  15. Avatar

    6593

    IMO people read too much into this sort of crap. Nintendo would kill for either of these sales figures! The Microsoft vs Sony see-saw will go back and forth for years to come. Scorpio is bound to sleigh PS4 Pro in Q4 and beyond because it doesn't hurt to have more power. Power is the #1 reason PS4 leaped ahead of XO and I'm sure we'll all be talking about how Sony screwed up with it's decision to launch PRO without native 4K. I personally think HDR is more important, but combining it with native 4K doesn't hurt!

  16. Avatar

    2693

    I'm primarily a PC gamer, so it really comes down to exclusives for me. Microsoft has always seemed to focus too much on brown and grey macho bro-gamer shooty games. I'm just not interest in those at all. Everything else seems to come out on every other platform also, so PC and PS4 are working great for me.

  17. Avatar

    5538

    Sort of regret buying an Xbox One S over the holidays honestly. I'd back out now if I didn't just corner myself with buying some games and some accessories. The promise of 4k Bluray is lackluster as there really doesn't seem to be any worth 4k Bluray, Dobly Atmos is promised, but promises are constantly broken with MS, then there's the game selection, it is like Call of Duty x 100 with different skins and called something different. I really miss the older days of gaming with more intuitive and inspirational games. the Xbox One just has some racers, and a ton of FPS (which are probably better off on desktop computers for those that are hardcore). The only game I have actually enjoy has been Re:Core, and that was pretty darn mediocre. Meanwhile I see the PS4 get a ton of support and have a plethora of games. If they only were backward compatible and had 4k Bluray (wait, this probably doesn't even matter), would go with that. Think I'll do a Nintendo Switch, but even that looks a little lack laster. Guess that's back to playing lame time wasters on the ipad.

    • Avatar

      10177

      In reply to SDreamer:

      On the Xbox you can get Madden NFL, WWE, Fallout 4, Diablo 3, Dragon Age, Batman: Arkham Knight, Disney Infinity, Lego Star Wars, Rise of Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, Injustice: Gods Among Us (and later this year, the sequel), Need for Speed, Minecraft, FIFA (Soccer), Final Fantasy, Just Dance, Terraria, Guitar Hero, and hordes of other games of all kinds. 

      It's flat out wrong to say that the Xbox only has first-person-shooters and a few racers.  The list of options is colossal.  I have a PS4, my kids love it.  But I am sure we would love the Xbox One just as much. 

       

  18. Avatar

    2532

    I got an XBOX One S and I absolutely love it. And watching the Martian in 4K on UHD Disk on my LG 4K HDR TV was a breath taking experience. I got the GOW4 edition Xbox and I love the controller and the console and everything about it. No Complaints.

  19. Avatar

    6852

    Does nobody here realize that Sony was equally, if not more, aggressive with the price cuts? PS4 was $250 base with Uncharted 4 packed in throughout December, and for most of the month you could buy it for $230 from Amazon. It even went down to $215 at Target and Amazon for a couple of days.

    Since it also happens to be more powerful, has a bigger variety of games, and has a much larger install base (i.e. friends who might encourage their friends to get the same system), it's not surprising that it sold more units.

  20. Avatar

    6539

    Not surprising.

    As a former huge Xbox fan (day-one owner of OG Xbox and 360) the XB1 had a terrible unveiling that made me jump ship to my first Sony console, and they lost Bungie and Epic - creators of their two big exclusive franchises. A 343 Halo game and Coalition Gears game don't interest me.

    They also don't have anything interesting on the horizon, don't invest in promising new IP (Recore), and the one thing that could have pushed me to pick a XB1 as a secondary console - Master Chief Collection - was a bug riddled mess.

    I really don't understand what's happened to the Xbox division. Severe cutbacks?

  21. Avatar

    5184

    This is really interesting.  I fully thought Xbox would come out on top with the price reduction and promotions. 

    In my part of the country, virtually everyone I know, that is into gaming, either has an Xbox One or got a 1S during the holidays.  Is it price, status, friendships, or word of mouth that drive this trend in pockets?

    I see the same sort of thing with iPhones.  A lot of folks have one where I live (I was the rare exception with WP until recently).  I've noticed that even most kids have an iPhone at the middle and high schools where my kids go.  In fact, they seem to love them even more.  I attribute the iPhone usage to living in an area of above average income, but the Xbox and PlayStation appear to be similarly priced.

    • Avatar

      2354

      In reply to jwpear:

      If the PS4Pro was not included, the XB1 did have the most sales.  Bundling in sales of the Pro despite it being essentially a new console and 50% more expensive than the Slim wasn't playing fair really.

  22. Avatar

    5394

    Maybe if they expand their markets, they might win more customers.

    They never have enough foreign markets. Sony always debut in far more markets than Microsoft.

    Xbox has that gamer vibe that doesn't appeal to casual gamers.

    Microsoft decided to not do a DVR. At this point, there's nothing to lose in becoming more of an entertainment console and ....

    Xbox should be marketed as a living room PC with full Windows 10 and Kinect. The market is there and it's huge.

  23. Avatar

    217

    I think the Xbox One is a better overall device, I've tried showing friends and family its features (Media, Apps, Kinect, Xbox Online, etc) but for those interested in consoles they all went with the PS4, so Sony has the leg up on reputation or brand for some reason. But VR also propelled the PS4.

    • Avatar

      165

      In reply to dcdevito:

      I don't know how Sony has held onto it's reputation with all the hacking in the past...

      I am a PC Gamer so I don't have an XBOX or PS. I think I may get the next Gen XBOX when it comes out. With the Play anywhere games that would work nicely. Plus my grandson is almost at video game age. I look forward to getting destroyed by him in whatever we play!

      • Avatar

        4841

        In reply to RonH:

        Sony held onto its reputation because of their exclusives: Uncharted, The Last of Us, God of War, Infamous, Gran Turismo, they've many fantastic franchises in their belt while Microsoft only has Halo, Forza and Gears of War.

        • Avatar

          2354

          In reply to Demileto:

          Stop using 'exclusives' as a way to measure anything.  Try 'exclusives worth playing' and you'll get closer to reality.  Sony DOES have more exclusives, but the vast majority are small indie games (mostly japanese language) that sell on average under 20K copies.

          And to use your listed games as examples of exclusives isn't really being honest.  TLoU hasn't been touched for almost 4 years bar a couple of remasters, the only reason UC4 is on the list is from the panic bundling with the Slim sony did prior to xmas, First Light is a DLC sold as a full retail game (and hasn't done well), God Of War won't see release for another year at best, and GT is pretty much dead at this point.  They are all GOOD games (bar first light) but their time has come and gone or is so far in the future they are mostly irrelevant at this point.

          Funny you didn't see fit to mention The Last Guardian.  A heavily marketed and anticipated 'exclusive' so outstanding it sold fewer copies than MS's zombie basher Dead Rising 4 despite being available on twice as many systems...

          Sony are brilliant at marketing delayware, and a biased gaming media let them get away with it time and time again.  Recall if you will, how Phil Spencer was excoriated when he announced that Scalebound was dead, now compare that to the complete media silence when, last week, sony shuttered another entire developer (Guerilla Games) responsible for one of the best PSVR titles out there (different to the studio that did their VR Worlds package).

          Sony has the media in their pocket and I'm not sure why.  US game media would rather foreign ex-axis country companies (sony/Nintendo) have success over one of their own, its quite odd.

  24. Avatar

    5498

    Not sure what people expectations are for xbox one, but anyone who thinks they will ever beat playstation 4 are dreaming.  The xbox brand have only done well traditionally in North America (USA).  Once you get outside of the US it sells terribly, nevermind Asia which has a big console crowd that rivals the US.  Plus the xbox strength have traditionally been first person shooters (does not sell well in Asian market).  If the 360 who had a ton of advantage over the ps3 did not run away from sony (despite all the crap sony did those days), then the xbox one stands no chance at matching the ps4 in sales.  It might be able to sell a few more consoles here and there when a big title drop or a sale is going on, but those are nothing but a bump in the road.

  25. Avatar

    943

    The Xbox One S really is an excellent console. I'm going to have to take it over to the neighboors who have a 4k TV but no 4k source and see just how well they go together.

  26. Avatar

    8578

    This also has some implications for UWP. You'd expect a significant interest in UWP apps on XBOX to increase sales. The logical sweet spot for UWP would have been WP had it become sucessful. UWP continues to be of little interest to developers and customers.

  27. Avatar

    10014

    And minivans outsold Corvettes and Escalades.  So the results show that most people want cheap junk.  But that does not mean that we will stop building Corvettes and Escalades for the few, the proud, the cream of the crop.

    • Avatar

      6852

      In reply to Biff_Henderson:

      LOL. Yes, if the Xbox weren't underpowered compared to the PS4 with a deeply inferior games library, you'd have a great point.

      • Avatar

        1872

        In reply to ecumenical:

        Xbox won in amount of exclusives at E3 2015. Xbox has superior amount indie games. Xbox has backwards compatibility. All this leads to "inferior games library"?

        Xbox has 4 big games less than PS, and PS has 3 less than Xbox. And what comes to being underpowered, I would like to know your arguments for PS after Scorpio is out, being over 50% faster than PS4 Pro. 50%. And still capable of running Xbox 360 era games with all original services attached.

        PS4 is in a big lead for now, and that's fine and I don't even care as a PC player. My PC is 100% faster than PS4 Pro already anyway. Game collection is superior to any console and games cost 20% less than on consoles.

  28. Avatar

    399

    53 million consoles sold over a period of around 3 years doesn't seem that high.

    • Avatar

      5767

      In reply to maethorechannen:

      Says the XBox fanboy. 53 million in 3+ years is amazing-balls. How many XBox Ones have been sold in the same period? 12 million?

      • Avatar

        3272

        In reply to MutualCore:

        Really dude!! Your stupid 12 million comment doesn't even deserve a response but I will give you one anyway. It's between 25 and 30 million. PS4 is seeling like crazy, it's amazing. And yet the Xbox one is still as successful or more successful than the 360 was at this point. Both have done much better than I'm sure either company expected.

      • Avatar

        399

        In reply to MutualCore:

        My comment has nothing to do with XBoxes. 20 million devices (I'm assuming that's worldwide) a year seems really, really low for a consumer device. Especially one that doesn't have all that much competition.

        • Avatar

          5767

          In reply to maethorechannen:

          You have no idea how many XBones have been sold since MS won't tell us.

          • Avatar

            2354

            In reply to MutualCore:

            Publishers are able to extrapolate based on historical sales numbers.  However, system sales are a wash.  Both companies make $0 or close to that per console sale, and 90%+ of their gaming division profits on game license fees (plus a bit from XBL and PS+).  As far as software sales go, MS is selling licenses at almost twice the rate as sony, despite having around half as many console out there, at least that was the case the last time the numbers were published.

            Engagement is where XB wins hands down.  EA published player numbers for Battlefield 1 recently, and while there were more PS players, it was not even close to 2:1 and while PS numbers were falling XB numbers were climbing.  I can't find the graph, but the numbers here show a mere 6000 player difference, far less than you'd expect going by console sales alone as many people seem to think is an accurate reflection of platform success.

            http://bf1stats.com/

             

  29. Avatar

    5057

    While I am agnostic in my platforms - I own XB and PS - I do enjoy the XBox One more as an integrated part of our media experience while in my office I use the PS4 as a play device.  I did previously make remarks that the introduction of the PS4 Pro was more than was disclosed.  While the XBox One is fun to work with, it is easy for my wife to find things on it as it shares a lot of similarities with her laptop interface, the PS4 with the latest firmware is now pulling itself out of the sludge.  The PS4 is missing so many options that the XBox offers.  As I stated before we do not know what Sony has in store, they are very tight knit about that what excites Microsoft users these days. Microsoft has a truly community approach, be it good or bad, where Sony is holding their cards close to their chest. And for good reasons.  I am a beta tester, I have to sign off on so many NDA's that I almost have to ask for permission to go to the bathroom (so to speak).  Why Sony is outselling Microsoft has everything to do with history and availability.  APAC and EMEA are largely Sony's play ground.   Microsoft is mostly in the Americas and as so many people wonder why Android is so much bigger world wide than Apple has to do with the perception that goes beyond the USA when we speak about World.  What I like the most, by the way, is having LAN parties in my small hobbit house, where my friends play on the XB in the living room and beat the snot of them in my office.  We enjoy gaming, we enjoy what both platforms have to offer.  Now let's talk about controllers.... 

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