PS4 vs. Xbox One vs. Wii U: Microsoft Finally Tops Nintendo

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

In terms of who’s selling the most systems, this console generation has belonged to Sony from very early on. But because the sales leader is the only one to announce its position, exact numbers are hard to come by in the console war. To cut through the fog, we have reliable analyst estimates from places like VGChartz that tend to line up with the companies’ sales announcements whenever they do come. September’s numbers are in, so read on to see how well each console sold over the last month.

For context, let’s start in June, when the Xbox One came in third place by selling 236,039 units, while the Wii U sold 286,520 units, and the PS4 blew both away by selling 412,761 consoles. All told, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in June by 75% and the Wii U by 44%.

In July, all three consoles saw stronger sales than the month before. The Xbox One still came in third place, with 286,534 units sold, and the Wii U held steady in second by selling 302,076 units. The PS4’s sales, however, skyrocketed to 671,269, thanks in part to the release of the widely acclaimed title The Last of Us: Remastered. In other words, in July, PS4 outsold Xbox One by 134%, and the Wii U by 122%.

Microsoft and Nintendo switched places in August, with the Wii U selling 215,697 units and the Xbox One selling 231,559 units. Once again, Sony stomped the competition by selling 579,748 PS4s for a 150% lead over Xbox One and a 169% lead over Wii U. Ouch.

This brings us to September. Compared to the other consoles, September was not kind to the Wii U. It started out sluggish, with 40,562 sales in the first week and 39,222 in the second. Things picked up slightly during the remainder of the month, as Hyrule Warriors trickled out in various regions around the world. Nintendo sold 45,070 Wii U’s in week three and 50,840 in week four. All told, the Wii U sold only 175,694 units in September — well below its average in previous months.

However, Nintendo’s September sales were buoyed by the 3DS, which sold a very respectable 377,802 units, thanks in part by the release of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS in Japan.

Getting back to consoles, however, the Xbox One beat the Wii U in September, and made big strides in sales over previous months. Xbox One sold 124,736 units in the first week. The online shooter Destiny came out during week two, which boosted Xbox One sales to 171,486. Week three saw an unexpected downturn to 94,467 units, but sales bounced back in week four, when FIFA 15 launched worldwide, helping Xbox One sell 157,715 units. Overall, Microsoft sold 548,404 units in September, more than twice the sales Nintendo saw with the Wii U.

The story is becoming repetitive by now, but once again the PlayStation 4 wiped the floor with the competition in September, thanks in part to the same games that bolstered Xbox One sales. Sony came into the month strong, selling 133,226 PS4’s in the first week, which is about 9,000 more than Xbox One, its nearest competitor. Week two, when Destiny launched, however, saw a staggering increase in PS4 sales, to 472,885 — more than double what the Wii U sold all month in September. PS4 remained strong in week three with 178,032 units sold, and leapt up again in week four to sell 255,954 units.

All told, the PS4 dominated the charts in September, selling 1,040,097 units. That means it beat the Wii U by a whopping 492%, and the Xbox One by 90%, even beating its own sales in August by almost 90%. In other words, Sony has continued its massive lead, taking the number one spot for the ninth month in a row.

The software side of things tells a similar story. According to VGChartz, the PS4 reigned supreme in game sales, with 4,168,804 units sold. The Xbox One actually came in fifth, behind PS3, Xbox 360, and 3DS, with 2,469,840 games sold in September. Wii U did far worse, selling only 580,491 games to come in eighth, behind every system listed above, plus PC and the original Wii.

The Wii U may have looked like a strong contender in past months, but September was painfully sluggish. Making matters worse, only one big Wii U game is expected in October, Bayonetta 2, which is probably not a big enough name to move a significant number of consoles. The next time we can expect to see a major bump in Wii U sales is in November, the month of both Black Friday and the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Unfortunately for Nintendo, October might look a lot like September.

For its part, Microsoft is holding strong, but still trailing Sony by a wide margin. That’s not as big of a problem as it may seem, as the holiday selling season has only just begun. We can expect to see significantly more Xbox One sales over the coming months as big exclusives like Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection hit store shelves — not to mention AAA non-exclusives like Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity.

But for now, the story remains the same: Sony is kicking butt and taking names. Looking ahead, the only big exclusive game coming to the PS4 this year is LittleBigPlanet 3, which probably won’t help sales as much as Xbox One’s Halo collection. That said, the PS4’s momentum hasn’t been driven by exclusives so far, so that may not matter in the end.

Note: All console and game sales data provided by VGChartz.

Follow Chris on Twitter @_chrislreed

More from Tech Cheat Sheet: