Amidst a host of global troubles, the silver lining of 2020 was the release of the next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony. Microsoft launched the Xbox Series X, a powerhouse console capable of producing high frame rates and beautiful 4K resolution. Surprising many, Microsoft also released the Xbox Series S which is cheaper than the Xbox Series X but has slightly lower specs. Sony released the PlayStation 5 which introduced the world to the DualSense controller. It features immersive haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. Despite their differences, both the PlayStation and Xbox consoles have been a hit with gamers, and this is reflected by their historic sales.
As has been the case with many other console releases, the PS5 was sold at a loss. This strategic pricing is necessary to sell consoles competitively, and grow a system’s install base. This strategy seems to have served Sony well, because according to Sony’s quarterly reports the PS5 had shipped 4.5 million units by December 2020. This is an impressive feat to accomplish in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
Sony has been making a hefty profit from their gaming sector, which has seen a significant increase from 2019. By the end of Q3 2020, they recorded 251.1 billion yen in sales. It is noted in the report that although losses resulted from selling the PS5 at a price that was lower than the manufacturing costs, substantial profit was still made from an “increase in game software sales including add-on content”.
Although Sony makes ambitious forecasts for PS5 sales, this will of course depend on them being able to manufacture enough consoles to meet demand and mitigate supply shortages.
It is a little difficult to compare PS5 sales to Xbox Series X/S sales. As KeenGamer has previously covered, Microsoft has decided to not disclose the sales figures of their latest consoles. However, this has not stopped analysts from speculating. Daniel Ahmed, who is the Senior Analyst at Niko Partners and covers the gaming industry in Asia, posted a tweet claiming that the PS5 is 1 million units ahead of the Xbox Series X/S. This does not mean that Microsoft’s consoles are a failure. According to Video Games Chronicles, CEO Satya Nadella has stated that the launch of the Xbox Series X/S was the most successful in Xbox history “with the most devices ever sold in a launch month”.
With a number of highly anticipated video games lined up for 2021, it looks like both Xbox and PlayStation will be enjoying another prosperous year of soaring sales. However, it all depends on them being able to address the problematic stock shortages that have prevented many gamers from getting their hands on a new console.