Despite a decline in sales, Xbox has just posted its second best fourth quarter ever, as Xbox Cloud Gaming also proves a hit.
For the first year or so of the new generation, the PlayStation 5 was outselling the Xbox Series X/S by a factor of 2:1 worldwide, but for most of this year Sony’s console has suffered severe stock issues, while the Xbox Series X has all but solved its.
It is pointless comparing sales of the two consoles until both are easily available, but it’s impossible anyway, since Microsoft refuses to release sales figures.
That’s because of how badly the Xbox One sold, but it may change its mind soon as according to its latest financial results it’s been outselling the PlayStation 5 for the last three quarters in a row in North America.
The obvious qualification there is that the Xbox always does much better in America than anywhere else in the world, with the UK being its only other major market. That said, the Xbox Series X/S has been doing much better than its predecessor everywhere, even including Japan.
According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the company has ‘sold more consoles life to date than any previous generation of Xbox and have been the market leader in North America for three quarters in a row among next gen consoles.’
That doesn’t mean Xbox has outsold PlayStation 5 every single month but overall, it’s been the market leader this year.
Also successful is Xbox Cloud Gaming, which now works on Samsung smart TVs and has seen over four million people streaming Fortnite through it – one million of which were new customers.
Microsoft’s fourth quarter earnings were down by 7% on last year, but this had been expected due to ‘lower engagement hours and monetisation in third party and first party content’. Which translated into English means there weren’t any new games out.
As a result, hardware sales fell by 11% and content and services (i.e. subscriptions and first party game sales) fell 6%.
This was still Xbox’s second best fourth quarter ever though, so given the circumstances there’s little reason for Microsoft to be upset, especially as it’s led to the highest fiscal year sales ever for Xbox.
Unofficial estimates of Xbox Series X/S have it at around 16 million worldwide, compared to roughly 21 million for the PlayStation 5. That’s a much closer gap than earlier in the generation but the big question now is what will happen when the PlayStation 5 is also easy to get a hold of.
The other major issue is the lack of first party games from both companies. Apart from God Of War Ragnarök, Sony has nothing else imminent at the moment and while Microsoft has announced plenty of games it’s only Starfield that’s due out any time soon – and even that’s not till 2023.
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