Bad news for Microsoft and Xboxers: in December 2012, Sony shipped sufficient consoles for the number of PS3s the Japanese giant has sold to exceed the volume of 360s Microsoft has sent out by a margin of a million machines.
And that’s despite the year in which the second-generation Xbox had no direct competition from Sony.
According to market watcher IDC, Sony has shipped 77 million PS3s - as standalone units and as bundles - from the console’s launch in November 2006 to the end of December 2012. Microsoft managed to ship 76 million Xbox 360s from November 2005 to the end of last year.
Sony’s lead isn’t entirely surprising. Official figures from Microsoft put the Xbox 360 installed base at 70 million units to 30 September 2012, while Sony’s own claims put its total to that date just ahead at 70.2 million.
The 360 is now more than seven years old, so all eyes are on next June’s E3 games industry show when Microsoft is expected to unveil the console’s successor. Sony, with a year’s advantage and the sale lead, can afford to wait and see what its arch-rival will come up with.
Consoles these days do a darn sight more than allow you to play games, and that’s not going to change with the next generation of machines. In fact, IDC reckons the number of games purchased per console will fall by a quarter compared with the current and previous generation.
Still, in the short term, disc sales will rise - “discs will remain the console game revenue mainstay for years to come”, forecast IDC games watcher Lewis Ward - as early grab titles for their new, eighth-generation machines. “Historical norms strongly imply that game disc revenue will stop bleeding in 2013 and rise substantively in 2014,” he said, though he also reckons disc sales will fall year on year by three per cent through 2016 as more games are downloaded. ®