Microsoft's recent Xbox One strategy continued to pay off for the company through September. The console was once again the best-selling in the United States, beating Sony's PlayStation 4. Industry-tracking firm NPD Group provided the data. The company says this is the third straight month the Xbox One has come out on top.
Those three months have coincided with a number of changes in Microsoft's approach to the console. The company has long ditched its ill-fated attempts to make the Xbox One and all-encompassing entertainment box.
Since then the focus has been put back on gaming. That does not mean Microsoft has abandoned its wider ambitions. The Xbox One is now a Universal Windows 10 device, supporting a full app ecosystem and deep ties to PC and mobile. That ethos will reach fruition when the ability to pick up and play Xbox titles even on PC reaches full swing.
Microsoft also scored a hardware victory this summer. The company rolled out the Xbox One S, a console that for all intents and purposes is a mid-generation refresh. However, Microsoft did it the right way. The machine is 40% smaller, and boasts new features like 4K support and Bluetooth. The console feels like a refresh done the right way.
Contrast the Xbox One S with the Sony PS4 Pro and there is a difference. Microsoft's unit feels new and something worth upgrading too. Make no mistake, the PS4 Pro is a beastly console that gets a lot right, but it feels like something is missing and that users are not getting what they were promised.
Microsoft sent GamesBeat the following message to say thanks to consumers:
“Thanks to our fans, Xbox One was the best-selling console in September in the U.S. for the third month in a row according to NPD Group as well as the best-selling console in September in the U.K. according to GfK Entertainment UK. In addition, Xbox One was the only gen eight console to see year-over-year growth in September in the U.S., Australia, the U.K., and many other countries worldwide. This success was driven by our fans and their support for Xbox One S, which is the only console available this holiday with built-in UHD 4K Blu-ray, 4K video streaming and HDR for gaming and video. We received an incredible response to Forza Horizon 3, the No. 1 first-party title for September in the U.S., Australia, and U.K. according to NPD Group and GfK Entertainment UK. Global engagement on Xbox Live – the fastest, most reliable gaming network – continues to grow and the number of unique multiplayer users increased 57 percent year-over-year. With the blockbuster launch of Gears of War 4 for Xbox One and Windows 10 this week and the upcoming release of Clubs and Looking for Group on Xbox Live alongside the launches of Dead Rising 4, Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2, Final Fantasy XV, Titanfall 2, and Watch Dogs 2 in the coming months, Xbox is the best place to game this holiday.”
Here's the thing, though, and we are moving into opinion territory now. I have praised Microsoft's strategy this year and said it will bring a shift in the fortunes of the Xbox One. However, I have frequently pointed out that this is unlikely to change the shape of this generation. In other words, Sony will still end up the comfortable sales winner.
The Japanese company has built up too big of a lead. The Xbox One may steal back momentum, but it is unlikely to best the PS4 by big enough margins. By the way, I am also of the opinion that Microsoft doesn't really care too much about winning the sales war at the moment.
Also, it is worth remembering that Microsoft's market turnaround has happened in the US and Europe. Those two regions have always been Xbox strongholds, especially the company's homeland. It would not be much of a surprise at all if the PS4 continued to have more sales globally each month.
In my country, the UK, Xbox One sales are close to those of the PS4. However, in other regions there is a clear difference. Anybody who frequents Latin American countries (which I do) would see a distinct lack of Xbox One hardware. Simply put, retailers don't supply the console, and if they do it is an afterthought next to the PS4. Latin America's situation is similar to Asia's where Sony enjoys more coverage.
The story is even worse for games. One interesting aside, the Sony PlayStation 3 continues to be a monster seller in South America. The continent is not fully on board with the 8th generation. When it is, one imagines Sony will be the winner in the region.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.