Sony and Microsoft today both issued separate statements on how their next-generation consoles sold in November, based on data from market research firm NPD. Unsurprisingly, both companies spun the story to say they won.
Sony said its PlayStation 4 was “the top-selling console for November and PlayStation was #1 in sales overall for home consoles.” Microsoft said its Xbox One was “the fastest selling console on the market in the U.S.”
As always, the devil is in the details. The PlayStation 4 launched on November 15 while the Xbox One debuted on November 22, and these figures are only for one region, not worldwide.
Unfortunately, Sony didn’t share how many PS4s were actually sold according to NPD. Microsoft said the group found 909,132 Xbox One units were sold in the US in the console’s first nine days of availability, or an average of more than 101,000 consoles per day.
That doesn’t really tell us which console is selling better. Sony’s “top selling” angle means nothing because more console units will sell given more days of availability, so it’s no surprise the PS4 came out on top if it arrived earlier in the month. Microsoft’s “fastest selling” angle means nothing because more console units will of course sell closer to launch, so it’s no surprise the Xbox One comes out on top if it arrived later in the month.
The real question will be which console hits the next milestone, like say 10 million, significantly ahead of the other. December figures for the US will of course be highly scrutinized, given that it will be the first full month of sales for both consoles, but it won’t be the deciding factor.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to hear Sony’s and Microsoft’s PR teams battle it out with statistics about gameplay broadcasts and total hours played. The early winner, if there is one, won’t be revealed till 2014.