It has now been six weeks since Sony’s PS4 exploded onto the scene, kicking off the eighth generation of game consoles, and just over a month since Microsoft’s plucky Xbox One joined the fray. It’s now high time to take a look at which console is faring better. While both consoles hit one million sales on launch day, the PS4 hit the two-million mark well ahead of the Xbox One, and now early figures from Ebay indicate that the PS4 is pulling away, with almost two PS4s being sold for every Xbox One. It’s looking more and more like Microsoft may never recover from the marketing and policy SNAFUs that plagued the console throughout 2013, and that the PlayStation 4 is cruising towards an easy victory.
Yesterday, an analyst at Baird Equity Research who has been tracking the overall sales at Ebay this holiday season reported that, “[It] looks like around 65k PS4s and 33k Xbox One’s have sold on [Ebay] to-date.” This jibes with Ebay’s official figures, which pegged first-weekend sales of the PS4 at 10,000, and first-weekend sales of the Xbox One at 7,000. For comparison, the Xbox 360 sold 326,000 units in North America in its first two weeks, and around 40,000 units on Ebay in the first month.
At first blush, it would seem that the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One at a rate of almost two-to-one. If we zoom out, though, the overall picture might be a bit more complex than that. The big unknown is the supply chain. While the PS4 has been sold out since release, only rarely reappearing for a few seconds on online stores when the janitor finds a few units hiding in a corner somewhere, the Xbox One, despite selling out early on, has been back in-stock at many online retailers for the last couple of weeks. We don’t know if this is due to Microsoft doing a better job of supplying more consoles, or whether there’s less demand for the Xbox One. Annoyingly, the Xbox One’s lower number of Ebay sales just confuses things more: If Microsoft is doing a better job of corralling its supply chain, that would explain why less people are heading to Ebay and paying scalpers a pricey premium for a console.[If you’re looking to get your hands on a PS4 console before Christmas, check out our PS4 stock tracker and locator.]
What we really need is official, first-month figures from Sony and Microsoft, but realistically we’ll probably have to wait until after Christmas (the inflated sales from the holiday period are just too juicy, as far as the PR and marketing departments are concerned). While Sony was promising a large second shipment of consoles before Christmas, it seems it never arrived. Over in the UK, a Sony executive says that it’s sending a steady stream of smaller shipments to retailers, which would explain why some stores show the PS4 in stock for a few minutes/hours, before quickly selling out. Again, though, without hard data from Sony or Microsoft, we can only really guess at the situation in the US and the rest of the world.
If I were to make an educated guess, though, I strongly doubt that Microsoft has a stronger/better supply chain than Sony. The first round of sales figures (2.1 million for the PS4 in 14 days, 2 million for the Xbox One in 18 days) strongly suggest that Sony’s console is in much higher demand — which in turn explains the PS4′s inflated Ebay sales and the rapidity of stock depletion. When the official figures arrive, probably in January, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big gap — maybe upwards of half a million — between the two consoles. And don’t forget, the PS4 isn’t even available in Japan yet — a Sony stronghold where the Xbox 360 was essentially DOA.