PlayStation 3 outsold Xbox 360 by 4 million units in the 12 months ending June 30, by far the most significant lead Sony has placed over Microsoft since it launched PS3 in 2006.
Microsoft reported last week that it had sold 10.3 million consoles in its last financial year, which ended June 30. Sony confirmed yesterday that it sold 14.3 million PlayStation 3s in the same period, pushing the machine’s total sales to 38.1 million; the gap between the two consoles now stands at a slender 3.6 million units.
Sony boosted PS3 sales over the 2009 Christmas period with the introduction of Slim and a general price cut.
The figures mark a significant reversal in fortunes for the two consoles: in the preceding 12 months, 360 beat out PS3 by 11.1 million to 9.6 million units.
All of which again raises the question of when, and indeed if, PS3 sales are going to pass 360′s. You can bet your ass it’s a question that’s being asked an awful lot at Sony and Microsoft right now.
Despite the major boost to PS3 sales in the past 12 months, and the fact Sony’s figures are undeniably trending towards a overall win, the outcome isn’t as cut and dry as some might like.
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These are cumulative, life-time sales in millions of units. The periods you should be looking at are the Christmas “steps” at points 5, 9, 13 and 17. As you can see, those gaps are shrinking, the most significant closure coming after last Christmas, during which Sony dropped PS3′s price and introduced a new casing. Since Christmas last year, PS3′s growth is obviously steeper than 360′s.
You shall not pass
Microsoft is now attempting to play the same hand against Sony with the introduction of 360 Slim, which by all accounts has been hugely successful.
Week-over-week UK 360 sales rose over 1,000 percent after Slim’s launch, according to Xbox Europe boss Chris Lewis. Analyst Michael Pachter said that Slim accounted for around 40 percent of June 360 sales in the US; 360 moved over 450,000 units in America last month, meaning the console was second only to DS in the period.
If price-cutting and the introduction of a new form factor steepened PS3′s growth, it’s reasonable to assume the same thing will work for Microsoft. Evidence so far suggests this is the case.
And that means the two lines in that graph may go back to near-parallel instead of converging in the next 3-4 quarters. And that means we may not get to write the headline, “PS3 PASSES 360 IN GLOBAL SALES” and spend 72 hours having a massive news wank just yet.
Move any mountain
The answer to the “passing” question is further muddied by the impending releases of Kinect and Move, both of which hit in this year’s Christmas quarter and both of which are likely to further boost sales for their respective mother hardware.
Both Microsoft and Sony have now laid out their motion stalls, [Is that even possible? - Ed] with the last piece of the release jigsaw [Again... - Ed] likely to come with the Kinect release date at gamescom next month.
Kinect is ostensibly expensive at £130 and $150, game included. The peripheral is a single unit, whereas Move can be broken into parts to bring the entry point down. Despite this, though, buying the Motion Controller, Sub Controller and Eye will cost at least £75, coming with a demo disc, as confirmed by Sony yesterday.
Neither offering is “cheap”.
The truth is that no one yet knows how the introduction of Kinect and Move will impact Sony’s ability to pass 360, although the overall reaction to Kinect has been “too much” compared to Move’s “not bad”. We’ll just have to wait until the results come in next spring.
Slappy girl fight
One thing is definitely known, though. Sony and Microsoft are now both locked in a desperate, hair-pulling struggle for the overall lead.
You’re allowed to stand round them in a circle shouting and laughing. You’re only human.