News Article

Talking Point: Does It Matter if the PS3 Overtakes the Xbox 360?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Console combat

According to sales estimates released by the International Data Corporation earlier this week, the PlayStation 3 is now the second-best selling console of the generation. The research firm predicts that Sony surpassed the Xbox 360 in global shipment figures this December, putting the platform ahead of Microsoft’s machine for the first time since its release. But while the report has provided the fuel for a range of heated forum debates, does it really matter which system finishes on top?

If previous generations have taught us anything, it’s that the games industry is difficult to forecast. After the limitless success of the PlayStation 2, pundits predicted that the PS3 would be a certain hit. But the platform’s initial struggles are well documented, with the console failing to adjust to the surprise success of the Nintendo Wii and the growth of the Xbox brand globally. A similarly unexpected outcome could occur next generation, with the current standings providing very little warning of what’s to come.

As such, it’s difficult to determine the exact advantages of one machine edging out the other. Victory would certainly give executives and console warriors something to shout about, but we’re not convinced that it means much in the grand scheme things. It’s too late for third-party publishers to suddenly pick sides, with rising development costs ensuring that both systems will continue to enjoy the majority of software releases.

We suppose that there’s an argument to be made in favour of the PS3’s achievements should it eventually topple its nearest competitor. Launching a year later than the Xbox 360 – closer to 16 months in Europe – at a significantly higher price point looked like it would effectively kill the console at the start of the generation, but Sony deserves recognition for turning things around. However, cynics could quite easily point to the system’s squandered market share as a convincing counter point.

If nothing else, we suspect that both platform holders will be looking to leverage their existing install bases in order to ensure the success of their new machines out of the gate. Perhaps more than ever, brand allegiance is becoming an increasingly important factor, with the advent of digital downloads and in-game rewards locking players into specific ecosystems. But while network preferences will no doubt have an impact on future purchasing decisions, we’re not convinced that those ties are unbreakable.

And that brings us full circle, back to where we started: does it matter if the PS3 finishes the generation ahead of the Xbox 360? For corporate sound bites and message board conversations, we suppose it’s a big deal – but behind the scenes, we doubt former SCE president Kaz Hirai will be knocking back his finest whiskey. The market is so finely balanced, that any minor victory is unlikely to mean much in the long term. No, the real battle is still yet to start.

Do you think that it matters if the PS3 overtakes the Xbox 360 in global sales? What impact do you think that the current platform standings will have on the next generation? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (31)

ShogunRokAdmin

#2

ShogunRok said:

If anything I think Sony have just shown their commitment to gamers this gen - far more than either Nintendo or Microsoft have, and I think the PS3's sales reflect this. I also think showing their support to loyal consumers will help them win over a sizable chunk of the market early next gen.

Now Sony just need the PS4 to be a great piece of hardware.

3Above

#3

3Above said:

I guess it doesnt really matter overall. But it matters to all those who have stuck it out with PlayStation and took all the crap from xbox fans online in the early days, back when ' ps3 gots no games.' Back when trophies didnt exist and shows like xplay were mocking( and I quote Adam Sessler ) " Ps3 suckers, I mean owners" The people who took all that negativitu and still loved the console care. That said, new generations are a fresh start so anything can happen.

SuperKMxAdmin

#4

SuperKMx said:

The only reason Sony are ahead (on shipments, mind you, not sales) is because of Japan and how utterly woeful Xbox 360 sales are over there. In the US, the Xbox 360 has enjoyed 24 - and is currently enjoying what is likely to be its 25th - months as the best-selling console based on 30-day sales. The gap in the UK isn't as big, but Microsoft are well in front here, too.

I'd say that nothing will change, regardless of whether or not the PS3 ever overtakes the 360 in pure sales terms. The audiences are large enough on either console for developers to not worry about which brand is leading.

And to 3Above - it may have been negativity from Adam Sessler and the like, but they weren't exactly wrong at the time. Plus, the negativity helped to drive Sony to make improvements that - in the long run - have ensured the long-term lifespan of the console.

3Above

#5

3Above said:

@kenb Thats true to a degree and doesnt seem as bad now that its far removed from memory but during those times when ' The Console Wars were in full swing humanity reached some very low points on websites and forums alike. Alot of it due to certain parties truing to profit off of angry nerds. ( Hmm hope rovio doesnt steal that name ) Granted changes for the better were made as a result of some it. But some thigs were lost as well. Some attribute the new, slower and more cumbersome PSN to complaints that it wasnt simular enough to xbox lives UI.

Splat

#6

Splat said:

To me personally it doesn't matter at all. That said it's not hard to see that the 360 is more popular in the US at least. If you go to YouTube and watch reviews,trailers,walkthroughs ect 9 times out of 10 it's the 360 version if it's a multiplatform game.

The same can be said of commercials or when a console is used in a movie or TV show.

I easily like the PS3 better but that just isn't the case for most in the US.

moomoo

#7

moomoo said:

At this point? No, it doesn't matter. Both are so utterly close that it really doesn't matter when it comes to who supports which system at this point. Also, numbers shipped doesn't equal numbers sold. Microsoft has pretty much given up on Japan, meaning they have to ship very little 360s over there.

Additionally, I'd assume Microsoft's console from a money-making perspective would be more profitable because it wasn't being sold at a loss for as long as the PS3 and was able to make lots of money through XBOX Live Gold. So even if there was a more considerable gap in sales, I don't think it would really phase Microsoft or its investors.

justplay

#8

justplay said:

In short, no. I never got into the console wars or really understood them as far as consumers go. I would've hated to missed out on Halo, Resistance or Okami (when it was exclusive). Think about not experiencing Mario Galaxy (i liked it at least) because of the dislike of another console. Hell, they all have their pros and cons. BTW, this is my 1st post and I really dig the site. I visit frequently, but just registered today.

3Above

#9

3Above said:

One more person with sense and reason. Yes the console wars were silly, and welcome!

hamispink

#10

hamispink said:

I think it's safe to just keep calling them the "hd twins" both in performance and sales. As the article says, these sales don't matter at this point. Both consoles are huge successes, and the real battle will occur at the end of the year when (hopefully) both Microsoft and Sony release their next consoles. Assuming that both manufacturers are smart and release at least one version of their consoles at $399, then It will come down to what the market wants. Will they want a TV box that focuses on being the media center for your living room(with a $60 per year charge of course) from the xbox, or a game machine from Sony that can also be used as a media center, though It will have some glaring problem that will lower it's mass market appeal. (It is a Sony device after all)

Zombie_Barioth

#12

Zombie_Barioth said:

I don't think it really matters, as long as the console sells well, gets a lot of games, and keeps the company in business it should count as a success. Thats the nice thing about the industry being so balanced, third party games end up on just about any platform that'll run it so all you have to do is pick your platform of choice.

Unlike back in the day when each console had a good chunk of its library as exclusives so you pretty much had to either suck it up or buy both. Thats why I hope the next gen consoles are more even power-wise.

Slapshot

#13

Slapshot said:

Does it matter? Not at all.

Both are absolutely fantastic systems with a wide range of titles that make owning both systems completely worthy of their asking price. You really can't go wrong with either of the systems.

hydeks

#14

hydeks said:

It matters for Sony themselves, but for us as long as we get the games and such, I'm fine :P I personally hope more people would give Vita a chance, cause it's an awesome system, but as the PS3 stands, the sales are just gonna get better this year, because it's a great value now.

Gamer83

#15

Gamer83 said:

It matters, espeically since a lot of stuff like achievements/trophies and digital purchases will likely be carrying over from the current consoles to the next ones. I have a lot of friends who own either a 360 only or a PS3 only who will stick with the current brand if everything transfers over.

The3DSisMINE

#17

The3DSisMINE said:

It doesn't matter to me. I have both systems and I love them both. Xbox with Halo and Gears of War and PS3 with GOW and Uncharted. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, but I'd choose my Xbox over PS3, mostly due to the online services that Xbox offers. Also I think the excusives are better than PS3. But (just in case there are die hard PS3 fans out there) Uncharted 2 and 3 are two of the greatest games ever made in my opinion.

NathanUC

#19

NathanUC said:

In terms of being a gamer, I never really pay too much attention to sales. It's a good way to get caught up in everything BUT the actual console.

If I would have listened to the media and sales figures when I first decided to buy a console to replace my original Xbox, I would have made a huge mistake and bought a 360 first. Every time I boot up my Xbox 360 now, it just feels like such a downgrade from what I'm used to on PS3. Hell, if I would have went by sales, I'd have a Wii.... HA!

If you're a game, focus on the hardware and the software. If you're an investor, look at the numbers. If you're both, Sony just made this real easy for you.

get2sammybAdmin

#20

get2sammyb said:

Can we put to bed the argument about shipped vs sold? I agree that "sold" numbers are preferable, but retailers aren't stupid — they're not buying stock to store in a warehouse.

@justplay Welcome to the site, man! Glad you're enjoying it! :)

EnslavedMonkey

#21

EnslavedMonkey said:

For me it does not matter. I play video games, and what console those games are played on are just an end to a means for me.

MorriganIsHot

#22

MorriganIsHot said:

It only matters to the fanboys, all I care about is some entertainment. Console wars has always been retarded.

EnslavedMonkey

#26

EnslavedMonkey said:

@Splat Thanks, and I agree. Got it cheap for the 360 first, and then I saw the PS3 for a mere $4.97 at K-Mart on clearance. The resistance was futile, so I bought a 2nd copy haha.

rjejr

#27

rjejr said:

@get2sammyb - " agree that "sold" numbers are preferable, but retailers aren't stupid — they're not buying stock to store in a warehouse."
I bet right now there is a very big difference between shipped and sold for the Wii U.
PS3 was aleays going to sell more than Xbox360 b/c the 360 will go away in a year and the PS3 will sell for another 3 or 4. It was always a matter of when, not if.
I would own a 360 but the $60 yearly gold fee turned me off.

R-L-A-George

#28

R-L-A-George said:

ShogunRokIf wrote:

anything I think Sony have just shown their commitment to gamers this gen - far more than either Nintendo or Microsoft have, and I think the PS3's sales reflect this. I also think showing their support to loyal consumers will help them win over a sizable chunk of the market early next gen.

Now Sony just need the PS4 to be a great piece of hardware.

By Nintendo, what are you talking about, is it the Wii? Don't forget Playstation exist because of Nintendo. These days even though gamers were sold a bit short with the Wii but Nintendo was trying to do what they succeeded to do. Well I do agree what they were trying to do. They could of made more effort with gamers in the process. It would of made the WiiU transition easier and more efficient in sales. VC and the creative Devs made up for a lot of mishaps with the Wii. There is great WiiWare titles including the Virtual Console.
The XBOX was purely made out of greed, Microsoft made it because they wanted to see if they will make money and it was kind of a bust. Everyone knows that Microsoft has lost a lot through xbox. Though Sony has had their losses too, mostly because they tried to make PS3 and Vita a bit too exclusive when it comes to memory devices. PS4 may end up with a record loss because a some of us speculate that we may need a special TV.

Sony comes in second to Nintendo still when it comes to being Gamer friendly and wallet friendly. Even though people may hate on Wii for being too casual. It all depends on perspective. Classic Gamers that play current and nextgen, still see value in Wii.

Jaz007

#29

Jaz007 said:

Sort of, if PS3 sales had overtaken 360 sales by lot than I would know more people with a PS3. Plus the little bit of fanboy in me wants it too.

Magi

#31

Magi said:

No it doesn't matter. At. All. Both systems have great games and both should be in any self-respecting gamer's homes (finances permitting ofc).

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