Out of the latest generation of gaming consoles – which includes Microsoft’s Xbox One and Nintendo’s Wii U as the major competitors to Sony’s PlayStation 4 – the end-of-year sales data proves that Sony’s flagship gaming system has come out definitively on top. The PlayStation 4 has seen sales of over 53.4 million consoles during its lifetime, handily beating the Xbox One’s lifetime sales of under 30 million consoles and the Wii U’s disappointing tally of 13.6 million.
The PlayStation 4’s strong performance came as a surprise to many industry analysts. In the previous generation of consoles, Nintendo’s Wii blew the competition out of the water, with almost twice the sales of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3. The reasons for the PlayStation 4’s strong resurgence are not yet certain, but some tech insiders say that consumers viewed Nintendo’s Wii U as too similar to the Wii, or thought that it was just an upgrade rather than a whole new console. Indeed, the Wii U did not have many technical improvements over the Wii. The Xbox One’s anemic sales are more difficult to explain, and Microsoft is sure to do some soul-searching as a result.
Overall, it seems that consumers responded very strongly to the extreme graphical quality that the PS4 offers. The PS4’s graphical advantages over the Xbox One are especially obvious for games that can be played on both systems. Another factor contributing to the PS4’s success may be its free online multiplayer – in comparison, Xbox owners have to purchase an Xbox Live Gold subscription to access the full suite of multiplayer features, which can cost as much as $60 every year. With this cost taken into account, the Xbox One’s smaller price tag quickly becomes less meaningful, especially for those who primarily play games online.