Daily Reaction: What Launching Ahead of the Competition Means – Xbox One vs the PS4

With the recent news that Microsoft will be releasing the Xbox One on November 22nd across 13 different territories, many sites and fans have been asking how this will impact Sony’s PS4. With that, the Daily Reaction crew of Sebastian Moss and Dan Oravasaari break down each console’s launch schedule and sets the record straight.

Will the PS4’s one week lead in the US help them?

Dan: In the US, the PS4 will be launching one week ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox One, a lead that should not be too much of a determining factor for any fan still sitting on the fence. This is mainly due to the fact that the beginning of the next-generation’s lifecycle has already been staged by the pre-order market that will consume most, if not all, of the initial inventory. This means that anyone looking to purchase a console will probably have difficulty getting their hands on a system for at least a few days, as retailers will have to be able to maintain inventory and those will still be limited by the frequency of shipments.

Seb: Yeah, that’s what much of the internet seems to be missing. Both consoles will mostly be sold out on launch day, with only a few retail stores having some stock. That week advantage will mean that impulse purchasers may pick up a PS4 instead if they can find one, but we’re talking tens of thousands of sales, rather than millions.

What is more important to know, and hopefully something we get a better understanding of in the weeks to come, is how much stock each company has. With the PS4 coming out first, it seems logical to suggest that they have more stock earlier, so that may prove crucial two weeks after launch – which is Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. While Microsoft will still be fulfilling the early core purchases, there’s a strong chance that Sony will have been able to restock some retailers in time for the 29th’s shopping bonanza and gain a lot more sales.

However, all of this amounts to a fraction of the sales the two consoles will get over the coming years, so I don’t think either platform holder are too scared that they will fail to do well this holiday.

What does the Xbox One’s one week lead in most of Europe mean?

Seb: Historically, Europe has been incredibly pro-PlayStation, with the notable exception of the UK, which closely mirrors the US. Unfortunately for Microsoft, things don’t seem to be changing next generation… except that the UK now seems to be favoring the PS4. For what it’s worth, Microsoft has taken the bold move of bundling FIFA 14 with every Xbox One Day One Edition pre-order, although that decision is confusing as most DOEs were already sold out before the announcement, and now tons of people are pre-ordering standard editions on false pretenses.

FIFA, a week head start, and probably better advertising will help them. A bit. But the other point to note is that most FIFA sales this holiday will be for PS3 (just like at the end of the last gen the PS2 still reigned supreme), and that’s where the £10 upgrade fee to get a PS4 version comes into play. Microsoft has done what they could to get FIFA fans, but they were fighting an uphill battle from the start.

Of course, this again is a case of really close dates that are mostly taken up by pre-orders anyway. However, with Microsoft shooting for fewer launch regions, they may have more stock at launch, which could prove important for getting gamers/parents who have no preference, and just want a next gen present.

Dan: Precisely, the one week lead will also mean almost nothing even across Europe, but the inventory will. The fact that Microsoft is going to release in fewer regions could mean that they will be able to supply those regions much quicker than Sony will, but they will also be giving up in other territories.

Microsoft really has been more assertive in obtaining control of the market in Europe, but mostly so in the UK. Bundling FIFA with the XBO is not simply about giving the game away to get a better foothold on the market, it is about the perception and using false information to prime consumers into wanting the system. Gamers will hear about the bundle offer and expect to get it upon release, only to find out that it was a limited quantity that was almost dead before it was announced, but, having spent the last 3 months looking into what the XBO has to offer, the chances of them picking one up anyway will be exponentially higher than the chance that they will suddenly swing away from the system they have been waiting months for.

So, what does the fact that the PS4 is launching in a greater number of territories mean for both consoles?

Dan: The PS4’s dominance in more territories will mean that Sony will have a presence in an area with little to no real competition for the home console market. The amount that Sony will benefit from that market will depend more on the number of consumers that are willing to upgrade and the number of gamers that are not simply PC focused. In reality, Microsoft already has the potential to establish themselves in those markets, as the PC is already globally available, but since they have yet to really give reason for them to pick up a console, that won’t help the XBO.

The only real issue that actually will play a factor moving forward, in the territories that won’t have both consoles, will be global presence. Some people will try to downplay the effect that launching in more countries will have, but by simply having a product available, the prevalence of the brand becomes stronger – meaning future generations will grow up hearing more about Sony consoles than about Microsoft ones.

Seb: With the Xbox One launching in 13 countries and the PS4 in 32 (plus Japan possibly), it’s pretty obvious that Sony will have a bigger presence in those 19+ regions. Of course, there’s a reason why Microsoft is ignoring most of those countries, which you may not want to hear if you live in them – most of those countries are not very important, at all. In terms of sales, most of those regions will sell in their entire Christmas what Sony/MS will sell in an hour in the US.

But then there are some bigger countries like Poland, Russia or Mexico, that do have decent enough gaming populations. So when you add all the little countries and the medium countries together, you’re talking millions of gamers who only have one option this Christmas (well there’s the Wii U, hehe…). Many of them will also feel slighted for being deemed less important, something we saw among some European gamers when the PS3 was regionally delayed.

The other funny thing is that Microsoft is investing into some of these regions quite heavily, with the Russian-based World of Tanks exclusively coming to Xbox 360 (and likely One later), and Poland’s The Witcher 3 getting promoted at E3 by the company. Of course, the whole thing would be a lot worse if they still had the 24hr check in DRM, which would have crippled their European rollout, but thankfully that’s no longer an issue.

In short, the one week difference in most of these regions isn’t the biggest deal in the world, and what will really be crucial this Christmas is purely who has the most stock.

What do you think about the PS4’s head start in the US? What about the Xbox One’s week head start in the UK? Or are you like us and think it really won’t matter? Let us know in the comments below, email us at [email protected] or tweet us your dates at Seb and Dan.