by Jason Evangelo

Despite its enormous footprint, Microsoft has always been the underdog in the console space. With Xbox, they had something to prove. With Xbox 360, they challenged the mighty PlayStation brand and emerged mostly victorious. With Xbox One, however, the company has had to self-correct while Sony watched them in their rearview mirror.

The tide might be turning. Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President of Devices and Studios at Microsoft, published a blog post today expressing excitement over the company’s string of exclusives (such as Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection) and high-profile releases for Xbox One.

Within the update there’s an underlying message for Sony which seems to say “We’re coming for you.”


One temporary price drop (can they honestly spike it back up to $399 after this?) to $349 and a few compelling bundles later, Microsoft’s Xbox One has outsold Sony’s PlayStation 4 for the past two weeks according to internal Microsoft numbers. Of course we’re not privy to how large that lead was, but Microsoft did say the Xbox One sold three times as many units following its November 2nd price drop.

Mehdi also stated that “more than” 10 million Xbox One consoles have been shipped through to retailers. It’s worth mentioning that it took the Xbox 360 1.5 years to reach the same milestone.

By comparison, Sony shipped through 13.5 million PS4 consoles to consumers by the end of October, and they hit their 10 million milestone at the end of August (again, shipped through to consumers and not merely to retail). They’re still comfortably ahead. But Microsoft is gaining through a combination of aggressive marketing, exclusives, and of course that timely price drop. Regardless of who’s at the top of the podium, Microsoft has done exceptionally well for itself in its first year shepherding the Xbox One, especially when compared to Generation 7 (Xbox 360).

“Almost one year ago, I had the honor of shaking hands with hundreds of fans at our Xbox One launch in New York City,” Medhi writes. “We have listened to your feedback and have worked hard to deliver hundreds of improvements to Xbox One, celebrated the launch of amazing new games, and sought ways to offer more value for you. As we reach this milestone, I remain awestruck by your passion for games and your support of Xbox One. Thank you for an incredible year.”

But as you all know very well, it’s the next two weeks that are crucial for both companies. This week, Microsoft launched the well-received, nostalgic, and valuable Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Halo is their flagship franchise, it’s recognizable, and the disc itself is a ridiculously strong value. Historically it’s the reason Microsoft has found such success in the console business. Though only anecdotal at this point, it seems to be the tipping point many Xbox 360 holdouts were waiting for to jump into the new generation. (I do wish Microsoft would tell us how the white Sunset Overdrive bundle did, as it seemed to disappear quickly…)


Next week, the mighty Grand Theft Auto V hits Xbox One and PS4 with a seriously upgraded graphics engine and a brand new first person view. Sony is offering Rockstar’s open world blockbuster as part of a bundle. That’s the kind of hardware that gets noticed on Black Friday.

Then again, Microsoft has great momentum headed into the holiday season, and they have the price advantage. It will be fascinating to see how it all shakes out.

I know it’s always tempting to get sucked into the notion of a “console war,” (and as press, we absolutely instigate it) and I’ve not been shy about my overall preference for the PlayStation 4 this generation. But milestones like this aren’t just good for headlines, or for Sony and Microsoft, or for their shareholders. They’re good for gamers. The larger the installed base, the more attention publishers, developers, and app creators give to our new boxes, the more competitive the landscape gets, and the more we tend to see price drops, bundles, and features that take full advantage of our hardware.

Tell me, if you’ve yet to upgrade to PS4 or Xbox One, will anything releasing this holiday compel you to take the plunge?


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