Microsoft and Sony Battle for Gaming Supremacy This Holiday Season
The next generation of gaming consoles has arrived and the battle for supremacy between Microsoft and Sony is well underway. After hitting store shelves on Friday in 13 countries, Microsoft's Xbox One sold more than 1 million units in its first 24 hours. The release came just days after Sony unveiled the PlayStation 4, its direct competitor.
Anything less might have been viewed as failure. After Sony's wildly successful PS4 release earlier this month, the company posted similar sales numbers, easily passing the 1 million sales mark, albeit in far fewer countries. With a much wider release that includes countries in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Amazon forecasts that the Xbox One will be the best and fastest selling console in video game history on its first day of sales; but once the PS4 is released in Europe, later this week, Sony is expected to reclaim the top spot.
Over the last three years, the eight-year old Xbox 360 has pretty much outsold the Play Station 3 month after month. Sony's console, which is a year younger, knocked Microsoft's out of the top spot in September, after consumers were able to purchase the console bundled with the game "Grand Theft Auto V."
By the end of its fiscal year in March 2007, Sony had sold a disappointing 3.68 million units of the then new PS3 worldwide. That year, Microsoft still led the industry in console sales until it was passed by Nintendo with the release of the Wii. Nintendo's console, revolutionary as it was, only enjoyed the top spot for about a month. After the release of Halo 3, the Xbox sold 528,000 in September of that year compared to the Wii's 501,000.
Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, which Xbox is a part of, accounted for 9 percent of Microsoft's total revenue last quarter. That number, reported in October, is down 12 percent from the previous quarter due to a slowdown in console sales ahead of today's release.
Although Xbox 360 revenue was down this year by about 100,000 units compared to last year, Xbox Live revenue enjoyed a 20 percent bump in growth. The service boasts 48 million subscribers around the globe. That number is expected to climb through the holidays.
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Benjamin Kabin is a Brooklyn-based technology journalist who specializes in security, startups, venture capital and social media.