Microsoft’s Xbox One X debuted in early November, to muted optimism and mildly positive reviews. The general summary was that the console absolutely had promise, but questions remained regarding how robustly it would support 4K rendering or increased visual effects. Microsoft has been outsold by Sony more than 2:1, and the company is looking for a way to reverse that trend. November sales reports suggest they may not have hit on a winning formula just yet.
According to the NPD Group, Sony shipped more PlayStation 4’s in November than it has ever shipped in any month previously. NPD also reports that the PlayStation 4 (See it on Amazon) sold more units than any other console in the month, finally claiming back some momentum from the Nintendo Switch.
Microsoft can claim a feather for its own cap: It drove more spending than any other platform, likely thanks to its $ 500 price tag on the Xbox One X (See it on Amazon). Xbox One also generated more sales in November than in any previous November to date. In short, sales have been robust for both platforms. Beating their November totals from previous years is a significant win for both companies, even if Sony is taking home a bigger piece of the pie — plenty of people kick off Christmas shopping in this month.
There are a few ways Microsoft can try to win back customers who have already bought into Sony’s ecosystem. Given the Xbox One X has a UHD Blu-ray player and the PS4 Pro doesn’t, MS can try to market its machine as a useful media center tool to pick up other customers. It can push forward with PC/Xbox integration, with added support for concepts like app sharing across systems. There’s no reason, after all, why the Xbox One X couldn’t be treated like a computer — it is a computer. Microsoft can cut prices and offer attractive bundles, bringing itself into more direct price competition with Sony. Or it can wait.
Right now, the Xbox One X is quietly racking up wins in many games, with superior performance to the PlayStation 4 Pro. The difference isn’t great, and it doesn’t win every game, but it does win a number of visual quality comparisons according to Eurogamer. Microsoft could be playing a longer game, hoping to hook gamers with its excellent backwards compatibility and the growth of 4K as an expected resolution. So far, Sony has relied on checkerboarding more than MS, and Microsoft could be hoping to turn that to its advantage. We’d love to see the sales split between PS4 and PS4 Pro, or Xbox One versus Xbox One X, but so far that data has not been forthcoming.
Either way, the competition between the two platforms remains intense. Total hardware spend in November rose by 19 percent compared with 2016, while software sales ticked up 6 percent, at $ 5.4B. Star Wars Battlefront 2 wasn’t nearly as much of a contributor to that increase as EA would’ve liked; lifetime sales projections for the franchise are now 12.5M copies (still an insane number), but down 2.5M from the 14 million target due to ongoing controversies with loot crates and microtransactions. We’re just torn to pieces over that.