The Console Video Game Landscape in Mid-2015

Sony

You have to feel pretty good right now if you’re Sony. The PlayStation 4 is crushing it and has been for the past 21 months. Here’s some numbers:

  • 25.3 million units sold (+76% compared to 14.4 million at this point in the PS3’s lifetime)
  • Over 12 million more sales than the Xbox One
  • Outsold the Xbox One 19 or 21 months on the market (lost once due to none being on store shelves, other because of the $349 sale price of Xbox last December)
  • Outselling Xbox One almost 4/1 in Europe and 56/1 in Japan so far in 2015
  • 6 of the top 10 selling games this year are PS4 games (at physical retail, not including digital downloads)

Sony’s had a pretty good time of it over the past 2 years. When you take a look at their impressive first party showing this June at E3 along with the exclusive content deals they’re making with games like Destiny and Call of Duty, they seem to really be running away with this generation.

Microsoft

Microsoft’s story this generation has been a bit of a roller coaster. Their initial messaging for the platform felt hostile to a lot of gamers, burning a lot of the good will they had built up with the Xbox 360. They’ve managed to turn their marketing around since launch by ensuring people that games are still their number 1 focus.

Microsoft is a distant second this generation, and they’re only losing ground every month. They’ve sold only half as many units as Sony after the first 21 months on the market. Almost 2/3 of all Xbox Ones are sold in the United States, and as referenced above in Sony’s numbers, they’re not selling many overseas. In fact, the Xbox One is actually behind the Wii U when you don’t count American sales for either.

The good news is that even though they’re losing to Sony, they have sold 13.1 million units since launch (+58% compared to 8.3 million at this point in the Xbox 360’s lifetime). While Microsoft may be losing the “console war” as we’ve traditionally seen it, they’re doing just fine on their own terms.

The Xbox One also has some really great exclusive games coming out this fall Halo Guardians and The Rise of the Tomb Raider look like great games that will surely drive some sales. I think it’s too little too late to catch Sony, but time will tell.

Nintendo

Some say that the Wii U is “just getting it’s feet planted,” but I think that’s a very generous view of the console. The Wii U has been a complete failure. I said last week:

Nintendo has finally come to terms with the fact that the Wii U is a failure and is serious about moving on to the next phase

The problems with the Wii U are numerous, but the 3 that I think hurt it the most are

  1. No games. Yes, you get 1-2 Nintendo games per year that you want to play, but that’s nothing! There is a new game I want to play every couple weeks on my PS4. No, I don’t buy them all, but it’s good to have options. This lack of games means that the Wii U is the second console you buy, it really struggles to be the only console for most people.
  2. Terrible marketing. From my time in retail, I can tell you that many, many adults think that the Wii U is a new controller for the Wii. I also think that the Wii name holds a bad place in most people’s minds. It’s that thing that they played for a few months and then tried to sell on eBay. They need to drop the Wii name for the next console.
  3. Underpowered hardware. Just like the Wii before it, the Wii U is far underpowered compared to its peers. Current games simply can not be made for the Wii U. Nintendo sort of made this work last generation since so many people owned Wiis that 3rd parties could legitimize developing games specifically for it. With the Wii U’s terrible sales, developers have no incentives.

Nintendo is at the weird spot, and I think that they are distancing themselves from the Wii U as quickly as they can. The code-named Nintendo NX will likely be here sooner than we realize, and that’s a good thing.

Sales for the Wii U currently sit at 10 million units sold (-81% compared to 52.6 million at this point in the Wii’s lifetime).