PlayStation 4 Leads Sales in January
FEB. 14, 2014 • Much as was the case in the United Kingdom, the PlayStation 4 leads sales in the U.S. over the Xbox One by a ratio of nearly two to one during the first month of the year, according to Sony Computer Entertainment of America. Neither SCEA nor The NPD Group has publicly disclosed the number of units sold by either of the new systems in January. Cumulatively, the number of PS4s sold in the U.S. since November is 2.27 million units versus 1.96 million Xbox Ones. NPD did say that video game hardware sales were up 17% to $241 million compared to January 2013. Where Microsoft’s system has come out ahead since November was in games sold per console, with a tie-ratio of 2.7 compared to 2.1 for the PS4. Regardless, total retail game software sales dropped to $224 million from $373 million in January of last year. In related news, Sony announced that it would release the PS Vita Slim (PCH-2000) in North America this spring bundled with Borderlands 2, six DLC packs and a 8GB PS Vita memory card for $199.
Impact: Most of the channel reports that we have seen say the same thing: finding PlayStation 4s at retail is difficult while Xbox Ones are not in short supply. Both systems are doing very well, which is why we revised our most recent forecasts for console hardware upwards. The PS4 and the Xbox One each have a good chance of breaking 100 million units sold. The big test of whether Sony can maintain its sales lead comes next month when Titanfall is released by Electronic Arts as an Xbox One exclusive. Both systems have lacked a great deal of compelling software to support them, which is a major reason why software sales were down in January. But Titanfall is the tremendously anticipated action title from Respawn Entertainment that most core gamers are chomping at the bit to play. That kind of word of mouth could boost Xbox One sales significantly with consumers who have been waiting to purchase the system.
As for the PS Vita, we fully understand Sony’s strategy of integrating content for the handheld with PS4 games. What we are not sure of is whether consumers are all that interested in buying a Vita based on those features. So far we haven’t seen any upward movement in units sold to suggest that consumers have caught on. The arrival of the Slim model to North America offers an opportunity to get the message across with additional marketing and promotions. But outside of Japan we have yet to see any software in the U.S. that can sell Vita hardware. In Europe, Invizimals: The Alliance is showing some promise in this regard. Until we see differently, we retain a wait-and-see attitude toward the Vita.