Xbox One vs. PS4: Nintendo May Be the Real Contender

xbox-one-xl

Source: Xbox.com

It’s been more than half a year since the latest generation of video game consoles hit store shelves, and the rough and tumble battle between Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One and Sony’s (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 4 has been showing itself to be a bit one-sided. There have been brief rays of hope for the Xbox One with the release of some major titles, but Sony has consistently stepped over top of the Xbox One and come out on top for the month. June wasn’t so different between the two major players, but they are not the be-all-end-all, especially not if Nintendo (NTDOY.PK) has anything to say about it.

Looking back to March, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One and Wii U combined, with 655,518 consoles sold to Microsoft’s 433,940 and Nintendo’s 154,227 according to VGChartz estimates. That’s over 50 percent more than the Xbox One and 325 percent more than the Wii U. It outsold both combined once more in April, with 579,850 PS4 units sold to Microsoft’s 335,101 Xbox Ones and 120,568 Wii U consoles — 73 percent more than the Xbox One this time and over 380 percent more than Wii U.

In May, the PS4 sold 577,092 consoles to top the Xbox One’s 178,481 sales by 223 percent and the Wii U’s 276,396 sales by 108 percent, according to sales data fromVGChartz. In the battle between these three consoles, it doesn’t appear that Sony is going to cede and inch. Plenty had been expecting the Xbox One to gain some more ground in June after offering a reduced price version that didn’t include the Kinect camera, but that hasn’t proven to be the case.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

For the four full weeks of June, the Xbox One was in the back of the pack in global hardware sales, though it trended upward over the month. It went from fifth during the first week — behind the PS3 and Wii U — up to third for the last two weeks of June. The bump up may have helped overall sales for the month, but it wasn’t enough to to earn it a higher seat for the month as a whole. The Xbox One had a total of 236,039 sales. That was enough for the No. 4 spot.

The Wii U proved it had plenty of vigor left in it when Mario Kart 8 launched at the end of last month and showed blockbuster-level success. Not only was it a hot release, but it proved to have stamina, as it was the top game for a single console for the whole month of June with 787,836 sales. Its sales were only beat by Watch Dogs, which had the benefit of being available on four separate consoles, and none of those individual console sales topped Mario Kart 8′s. The Wii U took that boost from software to get third in console sales for the month with a total of 286,520 sales. It had a little more trouble landing a high spot in software sales, as the PS3 and Xbox 360 still dominate that field with their large install bases. It took fifth in software sales, beating the Xbox One by over 40 percent.

The story is short and sweet for the PS4. Week one: second place. Week two: second place. Week three: second place. Week four: second place. It averaged just over 100,000 sales all four weeks for a total of 412,761 units sold in June. Of the systems that Watch Dogs was available on, the PS4 was the most popular, as it sold 602,006 copies for the Sony console next to only 230,660 copies for the Xbox One. The PS3 version of the game even managed to sell more than the Xbox One and Xbox 360. That seems to be the story with the multi-platform games: Sony wins. EA Sports UFC was another example — available for both Xbox One and PS4 but selling 82 percent more copies on the Sony console. Though it’s clear that Sony keeps expanding the gap between the Xbox One and PS4, that’s not where the story ends.

For one thing, it’s not exactly fair to look at the major console battle as just one between Sony’s and Microsoft’s latest consoles. The Wii U has shown some resilience as of late, and it still has a larger install base than the Xbox One. Secondly, the PS4 came in second last month, not first.

Although the PS4 keeps winning in the competition between the big three new-gen consoles, it’s not always the biggest — on top of that, it’s sales have actually been declining each month since March, though still staying high above the Wii U’s and Xbox One’s sales. Nintendo’s 3DS has consistently been showing itself to be a powerhouse in both hardware and software sales.

Since the release of the Xbox One and PS4, the 3DS has had no trouble staying in the top tier of system sales, only regularly being bumped out of first place by the PS4. The Xbox One has only bumped the 3DS  down a slot when it first launched simultaneously with Call of Duty: Ghosts and during the week of Titanfall’s launch. Other than that, it’s just been the PS4 and 3DS trading off the first place spot in hardware sales. For June, that spot was all the 3DS’. All four weeks the handheld system had over 100,000 sales — over 118,000 for that matter. It had a buffer between it and the PS4 of more than 20,000 sales for three of the four weeks in June and had between double and triple the sales of the Xbox One each week, bringing in a total of 489,328 sales.

The 3DS has also shown a particular strength in software sales. It gave the PS4 a run for its money in game sales, but came up just shy. The PS4 had 2.08 million games sold in June to the 3DS’s 2.01 million. The 3DS was helped by games like Persona Q, Tomodachi Life, Pokemon X/Y, Pokemon Art Academy, Youkai Watch, and Taiko Drum Master: Don and Katsu’s Space-Time Great Adventure. The extra curious bit about these high sales is that these are mostly not new games.

Pokemon X/Y makes for a great example. For all four weeks in June, it averaged about 42,000 sales. While that may not seem like much, Sniper Elite 3 launched to 45,981 sales on PS4 and only 19,253 on Xbox One for its debut week. During that same week, Pokemon X/Y for 3DS had 42,160 sales despite being on its thirty-eighth week of sales. Tomodachi Life had 63,375 sales that week, which was its sixty-third on sale.

With Xbox and PlayStation games, the sales usually drop off quite quickly after the first week. But with 3DS games, they last. That doesn’t mean they start out small — Pokemon X/Y sold 4 million copies in its first week and over a million in its second. For reference, that debut is better than Call of Duty: Ghosts and Titanfall’s debut sales on Xbox One combined.

At this point, Nintendo appears to be the force to be reckoned with. The 3DS has an install base of over 43 million, and it’s still managing to outsell other consoles. For current-gen consoles, the Wii U is in second place for install base with 6.52 million, trailing behind Sony’s 8.29 million, but the Wii U has shown its sales improving month-oo-month, while the Xbox One stays low and the PS4 sees sales decline month-on-month. The 3DS  doesn’t appear like it will slow down anytime soon, and with Super Smash Bros coming out for the Wii U and 3DS, and a new Zelda game in the works for the Wii U, it seems assured the Nintendo will be bumping up its game even more.

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

Follow Mark on Twitter @WallStMarkSheet

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