Looks Like Nobody Is Winning This Console War

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The battle for the living room between Microsoft and Sony, round three, has gotten off to a roaring start. Both companies have sold over 2 million units each of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in under a month at retail around the globe. Eager gamers apparently had no problem shelling out $400 to $500 for the devices.

Sony updated its figures following its Australasian and European launches on November 29. The company has now sold 2.1 million units globally. That number includes 700,000 units sold through in Europe and Australasia. The next-gen console is now available in 32 countries globally. Microsoft has sold more than 2 million consoles since launch in 13 countries worldwide, averaging over 111,111 units sold per day. “Selling 1 million consoles each in the first 24 hours reflects the pre-orders Microsoft and Sony took, nothing more, and was completely in line with expectations,” said Michael Pachter, video game analyst, Wedbush Securities. “We expect 3 million PS4 and 2.5 million Xbox One consoles to be sold worldwide this year.”

“According to consumers, Xbox One is perceived as the most innovative console and purchase intent is high in key demographics, including with 35-54 year-olds,” said Steve Beck, founder and managing partner of management consultancy cg42. The Playstation 4 costs a hundred dollars less, but Beck argues that “most console buyers base their decisions on the gaming catalogue, and that’s where Xbox has an edge.”

Re-sale markets like eBay and Amazon are also humming. According to Anthony Sukow, EVP founder and EVP of business development at e-commerce analysis firm Terapeak, PS4 and Xbox One combined for over $20 million in sales over the first week following their respective launches. PS4 outperformed Xbox One in both dollar volume and units sold during week one. There were 78% more first-week PS4 unit sales than first-week Xbox One sales. “PS4 consoles are selling at a 10% discount relative to Xbox One consoles,” said Sukow. “This discount is actually smaller than the $100 retail price gap between the two, which may mean that the PS4 is seeing more unmet demand across the market.”

Terapeak found that next-gen consoles aren’t living up to the success of the last console launches. For a 7 day period, between November 15 and November 21, 2013, over $11.3 million worth of PS4s were sold on eBay.com. Respectively, in 2006 a little over $36.7 million worth of PS3s were sold in the first week after launch November 16.

Nintendo meanwhile appears to still be struggling. It’s Wii U isn’t expected to top sales of 8 million units this year. David Cole, founder of video game research firm DFC Intelligence, believes Nintendo will only sell about 22 million Wii U consoles over its entire lifetime. That’s on par with lifetime sales of the old Nintendo GameCube device. But Nintendo has a hit on its hands in the hot mobile market thanks to its Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 2DS and Nintendo DS line of systems. Those devices have a global installed base of over 189 million gamers. “What we’re currently seeing, and expect to see in the long-term, is the migration of former Wii users, primarily over to Xbox,” said Beck.

Sony and Microsoft will both be supporting multiple consoles for the first time in history. While Sony has always supported each console for 10-plus years, Microsoft abandoned its original Xbox when the Xbox 360 launched in 2005. As a result, Sony sold 155 million PlayStation 2s since 2000 and currently has an installed base of over 80 million PlayStation 3s around the world. Microsoft also has over 80 million Xbox 360 consoles in homes globally, but sold only 24 million Xbox devices. Pachter believes Sony and Microsoft will each sell another 5 million PS4 and Xbox 360 consoles by the end of this year. Both current gen devices will be supported for at least another three to four years with new games.

Peter Warman, founder of video game research firm Newzoo, found that the U.S. has over 24 million “core” console gamers that typically want to be one of the first to own a new device. Warman believes a large percentage of this group will actually buy both Xbox One and PS4. Currently, around 30 percent of American Xbox 360 owners also own a PS3 and vice versa. The upside is in the other 88 million American gamers that currently play on Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, Wii or Wii U.