The console wars have existed since before many gamers were born. The excitement stirred by tech companies around their machines made headlines. Perhaps the oldest feud has been that between Microsoft and Sony, two tech giants who have towered above all others with their consoles that grace the living rooms and bedrooms of families everywhere. Many gamers remember the fight between the PS3 and Xbox 360 or that of the PS4 and Xbox One. Each battle waged victories and defeats. Nintendo stood by on the sidelines, carefully watching, learning, and striking when times were more convenient.
With each new console generation comes a victor. The one that stands out on the forefront, proudly saying that they won this battle while the war continues to rage on. This year, Sony brought forth the PS5, their newest console in the PlayStation lineup. A machine that was announced to have brand new features, faster load times, and a sleek design (that just so happens to look like an oversized wi-fi router). Microsoft brought the Xbox Series X/S to the fight. They promised backwards compatibility, 4K resolution, and high frame rates (all wrapped up in a cool, minifridge design). The question that all of this poses is who is actually leading? Also, can we already declare a winner?
There is no question that the PS5 has been the hot ticket item of this holiday season. VGChartz released an article estimating that Sony sold between 2.1 and 2.5 PS5 consoles on its two launch days, November 12th and November 19th. Let’s compare these sales to the sales of the previous console, the PS4. Sony reportedly sold one million consoles on launch day back on November 15th, 2013. These are staggering numbers, sure, but does that mean that 2.1 million people are currently playing on the next-gen console? No.
It’s no surprise that scalpers have gotten their hands on the PS5 console. Such a valuable item for so many gamers young and old alike will definitely be a target. Scalpers have hit harder than ever before thanks to the growing pandemic and sales for the console being pushed to a mainly online format. Scalping groups have gone so far as to brag about their purchase of PS5 consoles. Working together, this group ended up scalping at least 3,500 PS5 systems.
Xbox Series X/S
The Xbox Series X and S models both released on November 10th. The launch of these systems was impressive with over a million units sold. To put this in comparison, the Xbox One sold over three million units between its release date and the end of the year with a million of those sales being on release day. The official number for the Xbox Series X is around 1.4 million units. Once again, that doesn’t mean that everyone has received their consoles.
It appears that Microsoft underestimated the number of consoles they would sell just like Sony. Microsoft took the news easily and tried to let fans of the console know ahead of time. Of course, demand for the console outweighed supply before scalpers got involved. Microsoft was aware that due to the pandemic supply would be limited. They advised companies selling the console to let people know supply would be limited and to mark calendars for when the system would release. Sony is still trying to stick to their word of having 11 million consoles by the end of the year. This means that supply should arrive for both consoles, but the PS5 may be easier to get thanks to Sony’s dedication.
Did Either Of Them Win?
It would appear that the PS5 is the obvious winner. Websites like Tom’s Guide have already predicted that the PS5 is going to be the winner this year. Sony has a strong lead with over a million more console sales than the Xbox Series X. Microsoft could still have a chance if they pull out some new exclusives. The Series X is the more powerful system after all. A quick look at its specs will show the increased power it has compared to the PS5. Sony, however, knows that it isn’t all about the power since they released both Spiderman: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls alongside the new console. This has undoubtedly increased their sales tremendously.
The sad truth is that neither console can be declared the winner of this battle. The real winner should always be the consumer. They should be able to purchase the console of their choice and any games they want alongside it. Scalpers have effectively beaten the sales and bragged about it. No matter what console gamers choose, they will have a decent wait before they can grab it at retail price. Studies have shown that scalping has become an increased profession since the pandemic began. Ultimately, Sony and Microsoft should have waited until Spring to release their new consoles. This could have prevented many sales from being stolen from families who saved to purchase them.