“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” said the Xbox One at launch (channeling Mark Twain)…
Today is a historic occasion in gaming. As I write this, I can say I’m actually proud to have a job in gaming journalism that allows me to stand at ground zero of a console launch (instead of watching from the sidelines). Yes, the PlayStation 4 has already been on the market for little under a week (to huge fan fair and success I might add), but now, with the launch of the Xbox One, the next-gen is officially underway. This means, aside from officially referring to the 360 and PS3 as “last-gen” from now on, we’ll also have to consider a very different bio for when we look back on this launch period in gaming. Many had already written the PS4 into the record books as running away with the next-gen race at the start. Now, it appears that Microsoft will put up much more of a fight this weekend than many had expected.
I’ve taken the time in recent days to bring you several “public service announcements” regarding the state of how some policies (such as pre-ordering and the sale of pre-owned new releases) don’t just hurt the industry, but steal from the gamers who support it. However, the pre-order data (as much as I am against it) will help prove a point here. That point is; the Xbox One is going to do just fine. The PlayStation 4 set a goal of moving over 5 million consoles during its launch window, and after already hitting sales of over 1 million, it’s an easy estimate to say they’ll hit the mark. Also, GameStop touts that in addition to the huge launch-day numbers, there are still over 2 million waiting to get their hands on a PS4. Impressive, but not an exclusive achievement. New data shows that, despite the recent press suggesting that the Xbox One will be a simple afterthought this week, the console is on point to do numbers very close to its PlayStation counterpart. In fact, one statistic has the separation between the PS4 and Xbox One’s pre-orders shrinking to just fewer than 10%, which is almost within the margin of error. This is far from what I would consider a runaway victory. I was always skeptical that the PS4 would have such a huge lead in revenue, and I believe this recent data backs up those suspicions.
Of course, we’ll have to wait till official sales numbers roll in, but I have a feeling the Xbox One’s sales will be comparable. However, I don’t have to go by just my gut alone, as the response from gamers in the last 24 hours has proven this as well. Reports of people lining up outside game stores in New York almost two days early is just one of the signs that the next round of the console war will be much more split than some would have you believe. Phil Harrison of Microsoft recently Tweeted a picture of the very first Xbox One console sold in the world (and the first to be guarded by Shark Tank no less). I know these kinds of stunts are just for promotional reasons, but it works. Between this and the huge launch festivities that Microsoft is throwing in cities around the world, the release of the Xbox One certainly has a “big fight” feel to it (a la Tyson vs. Holyfield). Not exactly the landscape you’d expect if you had bought into the hype that this was PlayStation 4’s game to lose all along.
I was adamant last week about giving the PlayStation 4 its time in the hot sun. It would be unfair not to allow Microsoft that same honeymoon period. They’ll be plenty of time to dissect these two powerhouses as time roles along. We’ve already seen the issues that have come from the PlayStation 4 (resulting in a small percentage of consoles having to be sent back to Sony). Does anyone really think that Microsoft will not face similar challenges? After all, the Red Ring of Death became a part of gaming pop-culture because of Microsoft, so it’s no secret that people are awaiting the other shoe to fall when it comes to what problems Xbox One owners may face in the future.
Enjoy your moment Xbox One. The gloves are soon to come off.