During the lifetime of the PlayStation 2 Sony was king. At the time it was the highest selling console of all time, and it outpaced both the GameCube and the Xbox combined. When the time came for the PlayStation 3 to hit store shelves, the tables turned. The PS3 sold well initially, but over time the Xbox 360 outpaced it worldwide.
However, Sony’s push with the PlayStation 4 has been exceptional. The Xbox One’s DRM and privacy policies had many people ditching their Xbox 360’s overnight. Many of those people immediately pre-ordered a PS4 and we’ve seen a shift of interest back toward Sony and its console, but is it enough for the states?
In the United States, Microsoft’s Xbox is king. Total Xbox 360 sales outnumber Sony’s PlayStation 3 almost 2 to 1. But since E3 we’ve seen a dramatic shift in attention within the hardcore community, but is that enough for Sony to take back the states?
When you ask hardcore gamers which system they are going to purchase, ⅔ times they say “PS4," however take that same question to a random person on the street and they’ll most likely tell you “Xbox One.” The reason most hardcore gamers are moving towards the PS4 is because they are targeting the core gamer; the type who stays up late earning Trophies, live streaming, and buying more than ten games a year. The Xbox One however targets the average consumer, the kind of person who buys Call of Duty and Madden every year, and uses it for Netflix and NFL streams the rest of the time. The random person on the street doesn’t read video game news, they don’t participate in comments sections on websites or post on forums, the most likely didn’t even know about all the DRM drama. So the question still lingers, can Sony really take back the crown?
I think it’s entirely possible for Sony to gain an upper hand. Sony does have a lower price, a strong launch line-up, and the blessing of the hardcore gamer. However, I’m skeptical of the PS4’s ability to overtake the mind share next generation. The dedication of people to their group of friends may prove hard to overcome. Groups of friends tend to have the same consoles so they can play games online together. This means that people who own an Xbox have probably convinced their friends to buy one as well. It might be easy to convert one person away from their console of choice, but converting a group of friends is an entirely different ordeal. Xbox players will move to the next console, bringing their friends with them, and gaining access to more features they may be interested in. Unless Sony can win over Xbox gamers with comparable or better casual offerings it might be hard to convince people to abandon their friends on Xbox Live.
If anything we will see an almost 50/50 split this holiday season. I can’t see one console selling more then the other, despite Sony’s lower price point. If Sony wants to gain the upper hand they need to continue on the path they set out on last E3. Continue to go after the hardcore gamer, continue to offer the casual stuff, and do everything in your power to beat the competition. Sony might not be able to take Microsoft this holiday season, but I believe that if they can continue on their current path, they can one day overtake them in the United States.