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Can Microsoft’s Xbox One Stop the PS4’s Momentum?

April 26, 2014 Written by Alex Co

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(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article do not represent those of PlayStation LifeStyle and its staff and is solely those of the author.)

Since last year when Sony had a standing ovation at E3 2013 for not including a DRM restriction on the PlayStation 4, the electronics giant has been riding the wave of goodwill and momentum against Microsoft’s Xbox One. This strategy paid off in dividends for Sony, as not only did it net the trust of gamers everywhere, but it also translated to sales figures, which is often the barometer when judging if a product is successful.  As of April 2014, Sony has announced that it has sold-through (meaning sold to consumers) over seven million units worldwide. In comparison, Microsoft’s latest announcement has revealed that it has already shipped over five million Xbox One units to date, with the actual sold-through numbers still a question mark at this point.

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While Microsoft’s sales figures are nothing to scoff at, given that the console wars is a two horse race, being second, well, means being last. Possibly more worrying for the Windows firm is that in March, even with a price cut, and the “exclusive” next-gen release of EA’s Titanfall for its platform, which is arguably this year’s biggest new game, it still lost that month’s hardware sales. Mind you, Titanfall is not just a new franchise; most shooter fans deem it as the game to replace mega-shooter franchise, Call of Duty. To date, it has topped last month’s NPD software charts, too.

In short, Titanfall is the perfect game to target the Xbox brand’s multiplayer-centric player base. But now that this plan hasn’t worked to overtake the PS4 in sales, what could Microsoft possibly do to catch up? If cutting your console’s price and having the multiplayer shooter be released only to your next-gen system not work, what else can Microsoft do? Does it even have other aces up its sleeve at this point? And more importantly, does this mean the Xbox One “lost?”

This question cannot be answered right this very moment, if you ask me. Sure, Sony supporters will think that Sony has already won. Heck, just using the factual statements above as evidence might even be enough to convince even the most die-hard Xbox fan to back off. But if you look at the big picture and see the race as a marathon and not a sprint – as Microsoft has themselves said, then we have a ton of gaming time to go through before we can confidently declare one side the winner.  Microsoft might have cut its console price (temporarily) and had this year’s most anticipated shooter released (and in some cases bundled with its platform) in vain, but it’d be foolish to think the Redmond-based company has played out all its cards – and to assume all videogame fans have placed their bets.

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Gamers are a fickle bunch. This has been made evident with past console generations. Remember when Nintendo seemed to be an immovable object atop the gaming mountain in the 90s? It only took Sony to flash its 3D graphics, and the release of future Final Fantasy games to overthrow the House of Mario.  This success continued with the PS2; and just when people thought Sony was going for a three-peat with the PS3, well, we all know how that turned out initially.

Yes, the PS3 was able to catch up to the Xbox 360, but not by suffering a lot of bumps and bruises along the way. There’s no evidence to suggest that this couldn’t happen this generation. Who knows? Microsoft might at some point reveal a Kinect-only game that completely validates the peripheral’s mandatory inclusion. If not that, the company can use its hefty checkbook and buy a game’s (or franchise’s) exclusivity for real and not just its DLCs or a timed exclusivity agreement.

Another important factor to note is that the Xbox One hasn’t been released globally. Yes, people can technically import the console from another region/country and use it. But it’s still not officially supported in those countries – a fact that will be remedied soon with Microsoft’s announcement of releasing in 26 countries before the year’s out. However, even with these considered, one thing is certain for the time being: the Xbox One is losing and losing hard. If this pace continues, the PS4’s lead might accrue to an insurmountable 2:1 ratio (if it hasn’t done so already). If and when this happens, Microsoft will be hard-pressed to convince publishers and developers to put their games exclusively on Microsoft’s platform, regardless of how much money the company can cough up.

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So, what do we learn from all the info mentioned above? We can safely say that the PS4 has a comfortable lead over the Xbox One. We also know that Sony’s console is superior technically to Microsoft’s.  It also might not be a stretch to say that Microsoft’s first big push to catchup to the PS4 (price cut and Titanfall) failed. Microsoft is surely mending its wounds right about now, and regardless of whatever “spin” they spit out, the company knows they’re in a precarious place. But remember, Microsoft is more financially sound than Sony; and as they’ve shown in the past, they are not shy to use those billion-dollar war chest to use if need be – a fact that I think we’ll see at this year’s E3.

While very early on in the console sales war game, Microsoft knows even at this stage that it needs to do something drastic to put the brakes on the PS4’s momentum and take away some of the “core gamers” demographic that seems to have sided to Sony overnight. Could this be a price cut? A killer new franchise that will do to Xbox One what The Last of Us did to the PS3? No one really knows at this point. But just the fact that Microsoft knows they’re trailing means we might be in from an explosive E3 showing from the software titan.

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No doubt about it, the PS4 has won this initial round. Sony and PS4 supporters should celebrate the console’s accomplishments and revel at Microsoft’s missteps. But before anyone gets too comfortable, it would be foolish of people – and Sony – to think this generation has already been decided. The first skirmish might have sided to the PS4’s favor, but the war isn’t over…not by a long shot.

Do you agree with my observations or is the Xbox One’s second-banana status already cemented? Let us know what you think in the comments.