Video games are big business these days, and the next generation of video game consoles represented one of the most important tech product launches of 2013. Despite the challenge posed by smartphones and tablets — or more accurately because of the threat of casual mobile gaming — Sony (SNE) and Microsoft (MSFT) had a great deal riding on the November launch of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
They’d watched rival console maker Nintendo (NTDOY) beat them to market with its own new console the Wii U, only to fall flat on its face.
They fought a year-long public relations battle that saw Microsoft lose face over always-online requirements for Xbox One, worries that its Kinect sensor would be eavesdropping on gamers and concern from hardcore gamers that the Xbox One was losing its focus on gaming in favor of being an entertainment console. Its $100 price premium due to the bundled Kinect also raised questions. (The online requirement was eventually dropped, and the Kinect was made optional.)
Both the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One sold one million units in their first 24 hours, setting industry launch records.
Six months in, Playstation 4 sales are a bright spot in Sony’s earnings, while the Xbox One has been a big part of boosting Microsoft’s Devices and Consumer Hardware division revenues. With the launch, first holiday sales and the second round of blockbuster game titles being released, who’s winning the next generation console war?