This is starting to become a tradition: Microsoft announces record sales of its Xbox One console. But still manages to fall short of the PlayStation 4.
“Thanks to continued support by our fans, 2017 is off to a strong start as Xbox One game hours grew 21 percent year-over-year,” a Microsoft statement attributed to corporate vice president of Xbox Marketing Mike Nichols reads. “In addition, in the U.S., Xbox One had its best January to date and was the only eighth generation console that saw growth in January compared to the prior year according to NPD Group. Team Xbox is committed to delivering the best gaming experiences for our fans.”
You’ll notice what Microsoft doesn’t say there: That Xbox One was the best-selling console in January. And yes, that’s because Sony’s PlayStation 4 once again took the crown. (This is based on NPD data, meaning it’s accurate and U.S.-only.)
As you may recall, Xbox One experienced its “biggest month ever for sales in the U.S.” in December, and that, like this past month, it was the only [current-generation] console with year-over-year growth. And yet, it fell short in December too. And in November as well.
As I noted last month, the silver lining is that Xbox One looks great if you look at a wider time period: Xbox One somehow outsold PS4 over the second half of 2016, for example.
But with years of defeats at the hands of the PS4, I think it’s time to just admit that Xbox is never going to catch up, not in this console generation. The question, then, is whether that’s OK.
I think it is. The market for dedicated video game consoles seems quite strong, and while no one should be happy with a 2-to-1 deficit when compared to the market leader, the approximately 25 million Xbox One consoles out in the world is nothing to be embarrassed by. That’s a solid business, but more important, Xbox One sales have outpaced those of its predecessor during a similar time period. And the Xbox 360 went on to sell 80 million units.
Microsoft will need at least three consoles—the original Xbox One, the Xbox One S, and “Project Scorpio”—to get there, but so what? Sony has already released three PS4 revisions itself. Things have changed.
Obviously, I’d like to see Xbox One perform better against the PS4, but this isn’t Windows phone all over again, not even close.