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Interpreting PS4's December loss, Microsoft's new attitude

on 20 January 2014

PSU is proud to be a PlayStation news site. Even so, now and then the actions of its competitors are significant to Sony and to PlayStation. For example, as we reported, Microsoft is likely jubilant entering the new year after publishing its December 2013 NPD figures. Just to recap, the Xbox One last month sold about 908,000 units, giving it higher sales than the highly-popular, scarcely-available PlayStation 4. Xbox 360 also saw some love with sales numbers of about 643,000 units.

This is a major turnaround for the Redmond, Washington-based company after its negative performance throughout much of 2013 and the incredible take-off of PlayStation 4. Companies on NPD’s lists have the option to publish their figures, and with a product still quite steadily recovering from its shaky start, publishing these figures is a given, and a smart move by Microsoft that proves that the console is not out of a game that PlayStation has thus far been dominating.

Microsoft has been making many other improvements as well. Since the November 15 launch of the PS4, Microsoft has been making a point of complimenting Sony’s work alongside its own.

Flat, green boxes with the Xbox logo and white text not only praise the competition, but direct the minds of gamers toward the success of the industry instead of just one company within it. For example, Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb posted the following on Reddit—on a post about Microsoft’s winning December sales, no less:

“Both new platforms are off to a great start. We all should be celebrating a healthy vibrant industry. Sony has done a good job and they should be commended. The hate that infects gaming in the online space needs to go away.”

Perhaps most importantly, this new attitude paints Microsoft as a humble, sportsmanlike company—a complete 180 (if our readers will forgive the pun) from the blatant arrogance at and before E3 that had gamers streaming to Sony's booths. In fact, some gamers already wonder whether Microsoft would have remained this friendly had its original plans for Xbox One been successful. Though this publicized change in perspective could very well be a PR stunt, it does provide what some would argue is a much-needed positive force in an industry that caters to highly volatile consumers, and just may lure a few more gamers to the green team.

PlayStation fans, however, have no need to worry about the success of the blue brand. Despite all this good news for Microsoft, it still has much work to do if it wants to catch up with Sony. With the news of Microsoft’s winning December sales, we reported that though Sony seems to have chosen not to publish its December 2013 sales figures, it still runs things at the moment in global sales. Further, PS4 consoles have been extremely difficult to find since launch, and remain so at the time of writing, while Xbox One consoles have been relatively less scarce. Despite significantly higher sales already, Sony simply could not keep up with demand for the PS4 over the holidays, stalling sales figures and allowing Microsoft a much-needed opportunity for a win.

For Sony, this likely is not a catastrophe. The Japanese electronics giant has huge momentum behind it and an exciting list of games on the way for 2014, as well as the launch of PlayStation Now and some buzz behind its mysterious Virtual Reality headset. As Major Nelson said, the industry is healthy, and it’s a great year to be a gamer.

What do you think of Microsoft’s new attitude? Here’s another question for you: What do you think of Microsoft’s new attitude compared with those of gamers? Tell us how you feel!