The latest entries of the Console Wars, Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s XBox One, has been a battle of equal ground since their releases last November. However, the sales reports for January have proven to be disheartening for Microsoft, as Sony’s newest prize console outsold the Xbox One by close to double the figures. Having twice the sales of a product of a rival in any type of product or company is always an obvious source of entrepreneurial rejoice, but in a war with the intensity of the Console Wars’ Playstation/Xbox rivalry, this type of overwhelming triumph is a massive victory for Sony.
Despite valiant efforts to reconcile with an initially shaken fan base, Microsoft seems to be quickly losing ground to Sony and their monolithic Playstation 4. While Microsoft set off to a very slow start, the Xbox One had seemingly managed to level the playing field with the newest Playstation, as seen in the decidedly neck and neck sales reports of both companies late in the holiday season of 2013. Microsoft had overcome many early hurdles prior to the release of the Xbox One, such fixing commonly reported issues (one of which being the infamous ‘grinding noises’ generating when inserting a disc), rethinking some poor marketing concepts and functionality issues (Although many still exist, such as the unexplained and unacceptable lack of backwards-compatibility and the daily mandatory connection to the internet in order to play games.)
There are many other aspects of the Xbox One which may also frustrate or turn off would-be consumers. For one, the Xbox Kinect (a type of full-body motion control device) can never be completely turned off (even when not active, it remains in ‘standby’ mode), potentially invading privacy and comfort, as the Kinect has the ability to capture videos and photographs, among several other normally useful features which could turn the average person onto a bout of paranoia. Microsoft also chose to slim down the prospects of freely trading or renting games for the Xbox One, with frustrated players being rallied to specific retail locations in order to trade in unwanted games.
Sony and Microsoft have long histories of highly active online communities, and the new generation of consoles don’t disappoint; In fact, both manufacturers clearly realize the importance of online gameplay in modern gaming, and as a result, neither the Playstation 4 or the Xbox One have particularly triumphed in online gaming field. Microsoft has chosen to continue its pay-per-subscription policy for its insanely popular Xbox Live’s best features (a long begrudged policy which has been active since the original Xbox was released in 2001), and Sony has opted to revise its PSN policies, now charging would-be online gamers a modest $50.00 per year for online access ($10 less than the price tag for access to Microsoft’s online community.) The price difference for online services provided by the rival companies have likely been an impacting factor in the recent sales reports as well. After all, the average gamer (and really, the average person in general) tends to be a little short on cash after the holiday season.
Scheduled video game releases for 2014 have surely played a part in the recent sales reports as well; among other titles, Sony has once again managed to secure the role-playing game colossus Square Enix’s re-release of the (soon to be) outrageously popular Final Fantasy 14 title for a Sony exclusive release, which no doubt has RPG fanatics queueing up to purchase Sony’s new generation console (if they haven’t already).
Though triumph of such caliber is surely a significant blow to their pride, here’s no question Microsoft will rally its considerable resources in order to recover from their recent Console Wars defeat at the hands of Sony’s Playstation 4. The real question is, will it be too late?
By Christopher White