PS4 and Xbox One split the Black Friday console win, while VR loses
It’s easy to get caught up in the sales figures when it comes to the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. It’s a simple metric anyone can use to judge the consoles and give one added value over the other. It’s also rubbish.
The sales numbers are good for bragging rights, but unless you work at Sony or Microsoft they don’t directly affect your life. Maybe they add a little ammunition for that heated debate in the comment section about which system is better, but otherwise they don’t really matter.
With that said, here’s a look at the Black Friday sales results for each system!
While sales numbers don’t in themselves matter, they do impact the overall industry. Ever wonder why the PS4 seems to be getting more exclusive content than the Xbox One? It’s not because Sony is so much better to work with, it’s that there are more PS4s out there so developers looking to land a publisher deal go where there are more potential customers. That’s far from a hard and fast rule, but having more consoles out in the wild helps Sony with leverage. Equally, selling more units over the last few months helps Microsoft when it is negotiating new Xbox One deals.
The consumer insight group InfoScout broke down the consoles sales from 2016’s Black Friday. The actual number of units sold hasn’t been released (and probably won’t be until late into next quarter), but the percentage of sales have been.
The results were broken up into two distinct categories: consoles sold at brick and mortar locations and consoles sold online. In the brick and mortar stores, the PlayStation sold 58-percent of the consoles compared to 42-percent for the Xbox One. The PS4 is credited with the win primarily thanks to a massive discount – the PlayStation 4 Uncharted Bundle sold for $212.
On the online side, it was the Xbox One with 55-percent of the sales to the PS4’s 45-percent, fueled by the Xbox One’s 1TB Battlefield Bundle selling for $299. An exact “winner” of Black Friday won’t be known for a while, but both sides have their bragging points.
As of September 2016, the PS4 shipped 47.4 million. That number has since been revised upwards, with 52 million shipped through November (which, to be clear, isn’t the same as sold through, but it is impressive). The Xbox One, on the other hand, sold around 29 million prior to Black Friday. That’s obviously a significant gap, but Microsoft has momentum – the Xbox One was the better selling console in the US through the summer for three solid months, while in the UK, it saw a 1000-percent spike in sales. You can credit the freshly released Xbox One S model, but good sales are good sales.
While that’s interesting enough in an academic way, the really fascinating part was the breakdown of why consumers chose the console they chose. Unsurprisingly, the games were the deciding factor, both the existing library and the bundles sold. Beyond that, the PS4 was preferred for performance and graphics and virtual reality (the Xbox One doesn’t yet offer virtual reality), while the Xbox One leads in most of the other categories.
And speaking of virtual reality, VR is arguably the big loser this holiday season. Sony, Oculus, Google, HTC, and all the VR manufacturers are lowering their expectations – significantly.
After releasing the PSVR on October 13, Sony expected to sell 2.6 million PSVR units before the end of the year. It is now expecting to sell around 750,000 units. And it’s not just the PSVR, the Vive has sold just 355,000, which was released on April 5, 2016. Many blame the Vive’s exorbitant price tag, while others claim VR just isn’t ready for primetime yet, as evidenced by the uneven and unremarkable releases thus far.
Still, the holidays can be unpredictable. Nintendo wasn’t mentioned in the consumer reports – mainly because the Switch is months away and the Wii U is a dead console walking – but it is arguably shaping up as one of the big winners of the holiday season thanks to the NES Classic Edition retro console. Nintendo’s nostalgic system is sold out across the US, and is looking more and more like the “hot” gift this season.
The retro system won’t generate as much revenue for Nintendo as the PS4 and Xbox One will for their respective makers (not to mention software sales, peripherals, online fees, etc), but it goes to show that the holidays can quickly change things when it comes to gaming.