Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks (or find yourself over the age of 50), then you’re more than likely aware that the next generation of gaming consoles has officially launched. The Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X were finally made available to the public. Every time a new generation of consoles emerged, the world is thrust into hysteria, as websites crash from pre-orders and scalpers charge double or even triple the retail price on the resale market. With the official launch week now firmly behind us, let’s take a look at just how well the new consoles faired against one another and against past launch weeks. In fairness; the Nintendo Switch is technically considered the next generation of gaming for Nintendo, but the mega-company tends to March to the beat of their own drum and isn’t usually in direct competition with the Xbox and PlayStation. Now, without further ado; let’s take a look at the launch numbers for the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, shall we?
Microsoft and Sony have been considered rivals in the console realm ever since the Xbox’s inception; and so it should come as no surprise that both companies would debut their next-gen consoles in the same week as each other. The Xbox Series X launched on November 10th, 2020. The PlayStation 5 launched just two days later on November 12th, 2020. Now, with the success of the PlayStation 4, you would think that Microsoft would rethink their approach to how they want to market the Series X. The Xbox One aimed to take over living rooms as the entertainment hub for the home, thus shirking away from focusing solely on games. The PlayStation 4 leaned the opposite way and went all-in with gaming, providing a large amount of Sony Entertainment exclusive titles as an example.
The sales speak for themself, but we’ll get into that later.
Because of the focus on games, the PS4 outsold the Xbox over the last generation. Now, I present all of this lore because one would think that Microsoft would learn from its past mistakes and burst through the gates with flagship titles.
That wasn’t the case. There were zero games that launched exclusively for Series X.
The PS5 had 4.
5 if you count Astro’s Playroom, which is essentially a demo that showcases the PlayStation 5s capabilities.
I think you know where this is going.
For example, just 4 days after debuting, the PlayStation 5 moved 118,000 units in Japan, compared to the Xbox Series X which sold only 21,000. That is a massive difference. Not only did Sony more than quadruple the amount sold, but they did it with 2 days to spare. Worldwide, the number difference isn’t as drastic. Estimates show that by November 14th, the PS5 sold 1,483,910 consoles globally, while the Series X did 1,345,386. Still over a hundred thousand unit difference, but not nearly as bleak as the sales in Japan.
I won’t attribute this solely to the lack of 1st party titles, but I do believe that it plays a decent role. You have to give consumers a reason to try your product over your competition. The brand name can only do so much.
For example, the past few years have been epic for fans of the Spider-Man franchise. With the critical and commercial success of both Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Insomniac Game’s Marvel Spider-Man; the Miles Morales spin-off garnered a ton of anticipation. Sony made the brilliant decision of debuting the game along with the PS5’s launch. This gave gamers a reason to experience just what a next-gen game could do. I personally would have purchased the Series X had Halo Infinite launched alongside it. Sadly, it did not.
Now, is this a death blow for Xbox? Of course not, not even close. According to reports, the console still managed to experience the biggest launch for an Xbox console in history, and it is totally possible for the Series X to make up ground since it’s only been a few weeks since launch, but one would still like to take advantage of every possible option available. Now, how do the numbers compare to past generations? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Compared To The Past
Last gen was arguably the most anticipated console launch period ever; with the hype around the massive jump in graphical power and console versatility leading the charge for consumers to get excited. The Xbox wanted to become the entertainment center for homes and the PlayStation was ambitious with its touchpad and share play features. Everyone wanted to witness just how far gaming could go, and the numbers did not disappoint.
According to Engadget, the PS4 saw its sales eclipse the 1 million mark in a mere 24 hours. Japanese sales accounted for 322,083 units sold during launch. Within 2 weeks, that number more than doubled to 2.1 million units. What can also be used as a comparison is the 88,400 units that the PlayStation 3 sold in Japan during launch week. If we are to believe reports, then it is entirely possible for the PS5 to meet the goal of the PS4 within the same time period; that is of course if its supply can meet the demand by consumers. Sony has come forth, stating that the demand was “unprecedented” and that more consoles will be available before the end of the year. Holiday shoppers rejoice.
As stated before, the Series X has experienced the biggest launch in Xbox history. The Xbox One previously held that title with 1.1 million units sold during launch. Sales in the UK show that the Series X moved approximately 155,000 units during launch; outselling the Xbox One with 150,000 units and greatly outdoing the Xbox 360 that sold approximately half of that total with 70,000 units. So while the numbers for the Series X don’t quite match up to the PS5, it’s fair to say that Microsoft still experienced a successful launch by past standards.
That was a look at the launch numbers for the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. It may take a while to truly get a grasp on the exact numbers for the launch period of both consoles, but so far they have both been off to incredible starts. This is truly a golden era for gaming. VR may be looking to control a sizeable chunk of the market, and streaming services like Stadia are emerging as competitors, but with the reported numbers, it would be foolish to think that console hysteria will die down anytime soon.
Thank you for reading and for more gaming related content, be sure to check out other articles like this one and this!