How Sony is Winning the Console War

Although the current console war between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One isn't nearly as heated as it was last generation between the PS3 and Xbox 360, there are still quite a few hardcore gamers on gaming forums going back and forth about which system is better and which system is 'winning.'

Most experts would agree that Microsoft 'won' last generation's console war. Despite the fact the Xbox 360 actually sold fewer units globally than the PlayStation 3 during its lifetime, Microsoft pretty much dominated the North American market year after year. Sony went from having an undisputed stranglehold on the market with the massive success of the PS2 (158 million PS2's sold compared to just 25 million original Xboxes) to being pretty much neck and neck with Microsoft in last generation's market share (85 million PS3's sold compared to 84.5 million Xbox 360's). Microsoft made up a ton of ground on Sony which was a big win for the Xbox brand. The story this generation has been quite different thus far and Sony is once again reigning supreme.

In terms of straight up sales, the PS4 is currently number one by a wide margin. Last generation the Xbox 360 had a year head start on the PS3 which made it harder for Sony to catch up. This time around both consoles launched within a week of each other. According to numbers from VGChartz, the PS4 currently has 19.1 million units sold worldwide since its launch on November 15th, 2013 while the Xbox One is lagging behind with 11.3 million units sold since it came out on November 22nd, 2013. Sony has been widening the gap lately as well. The weekly hardware charts on VGChartz show that in the week ending January 31st, 2015, the PlayStation 4 sold about 147,000 units globally while the Xbox One sold a little more than half that with roughly 79,000 units worldwide.

At this point, it's important to mention that when talking about console wars most people focus on comparing Microsoft with Sony. Nintendo does not enter into the discussion because the Wii / Wii U are seen as consoles aimed at kids. An adult trying to decide which gaming console to purchase will most likely have narrowed his choices down to either a PS4 or an Xbox One and so that is why this article will focus exclusively on these two consoles. Now that that's out of the way let's get back to the comparison.

Another reason that the PlayStation 4 jumped out to a comfortable sales lead this generation is because Microsoft made the mistake of attempting to force consumers to buy the Kinect 2. When the Xbox One launched, there was no Kinect-less option. Every console came with the Kinect. A consequence of this was that it caused the price to be higher than it otherwise would have been and made an Xbox One cost more than a PlayStation 4. An Xbox One with Kinect 2 cost $499 at launch while the PS4 cost just $399 at launch.

Microsoft initially claimed this was a good 'deal' because Kinect 2 sells by itself for $150 so technically speaking you're getting a $50 'discount' on a $400 console with the $150 Kinect for $500 instead of $550. The problem is it's not really a deal when people don't WANT Kinect to begin with. Microsoft has since remedied this situation by no longer making Kinect mandatory and offering Xbox One bundles without Kinect. The Xbox One is actually cheaper than the PS4 at the time of this writing thanks to a $349 Assassin's Creed Unity bundle which comes with the 500 GB console, a wireless controller, headset, and digital download codes for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin's Creed: Unity. Now this actually is a good deal. The comparable PS4 bundle is slightly more expensive at $399 and comes with the 500 GB console, a wireless controller, headset, and digital download code for The Last of Us Remastered – the highest scoring PS4 exclusive.

One thing that lots of gamers debated last generation is which console was more powerful, the Xbox 360 or the PS3? Talk about technical specs doesn't seem as important nowadays because both new consoles are very similar. Both the PS4 and Xbox One have noticeable graphical and performance improvements from their predecessors. Playing Dragon Age: Inquisition on PS4 compared to playing it on PS3 is like a night and day difference.

Screenshot from a YouTube video comparison on the channel Candyland

Although the two new consoles are very similar, there are some slight differences as well and when considering those differences the PS4 emerges as the objectively stronger piece of technology. For example, the PlayStation 4's peak GPU shader throughput is 1.84 TeraFLOPS/s compared to estimate of 1.31 TeraFLOPS/s for the Xbox One (higher is better). The PS4's GPU also 1,152 shaders compared to the Xbox One's 768. This means the PS4 has better computational power and graphics will render faster as well. Another difference is the PS4 uses 8GB of GDDR5 RAM while the Xbox One has 8 GB of DDR3 RAM. Both are 8 GB but the case has been made that GDDR5 is faster overall. Two other noteworthy differences are the PS4 has an internal power source while the Xbox One still uses an external power brick and the PS4 controllers use internal batteries while the Xbox One controllers still use AA batteries. These last two are more about convenience for the player rather than performance, though.

So the PS4 is ahead both in terms of total units sold worldwide and has a slight advantage in technical specs making it the more powerful system of the two. This is all well and good but the biggest reason Sony is dominating this round of the console wars is games and games are what we as gamers obviously care the most about. The PS4 has more exclusives, better reviewed multiplatform titles, and better exclusives overall.

Looking through the entire list of reviewed games and expansion DLC packs currently listed on Metacritic for both systems, the PlayStation 4 has 207 total games while the Xbox One has just 145. Sony has 43 PlayStation 4 exclusive titles with another 92 console exclusives (console exclusive means that it may be available on PC or a handheld but is not on a 'rival' console – in this case the Xbox One or Xbox 360). In comparison, Microsoft has just 39 exclusive Xbox One titles with another 28 console exclusives.

So you're effectively looking at 135 exclusive games on PS4 vs. just 67 exclusive games on Xbox One.

Exclusives have also reviewed better for PS4. The highest reviewed exclusive title for the PlayStation 4 is currently The Last of Us Remastered which has a 95 aggregate review score on Metacritic. In contrast, the highest reviewed exclusive on Xbox One is Forza Horizon 2 with an 86 aggregate score.

The Xbox One currently has just eight exclusive and console exclusive titles with aggregate review scores of 80 or higher. They are:

Titanfall – 86

Forza Horizon 2 - 86

Halo: Master Chief Collection – 85

Pinball Fx 2 - 85

Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island - 82

Kalimba - 81

Sunset Overdrive - 81

#IDARB - 80

The PlayStation 4 on the other hand has 21 exclusives and console exclusives reviewed 80 or higher:

Last of Us Remastered - 95

Flower - 91

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth - 88

TowerFall Ascension - 87

Velocity 2X - 86

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn - 86

Resogun: Heroes - 86

Guilty Gear Xrd - 85

Super Mega Baseball - 84

Sound Shapes - 83

The Swapper - 84

Resogun - 84

Transistor - 83

MLB 14: The Show - 83

The Unfinished Swan - 83

Sportsfriends - 82

PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate - 82

Zen Pinball 2 – 82

SteamWorld Dig - 82

Pix the Cat - 80

inFamous: Second Son - 80

When you compare multiplatform games, many of them tend to receive higher review scores for PlayStation 4 as well. Here are a few notable examples:

Dragon Age: Inquisition scored an 89 on PS4 and an 85 on Xbox One

Battlefield 4 scored an 85 on PS4 and an 81 on Xbox One

Far Cry 4 scored an 85 on PS4 and an 82 on Xbox One

Need for Speed: Rivals scored an 80 on PS4 an a 75 on Xbox One

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare scored an 83 on PS4 and an 81 on Xbox One

Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition scored a 90 on PS4 and an 86 on Xbox One

Looking at the total number of games reviewed, the PlayStation 4 has the following score breakdown:

6 games scored in the 90's (3%)

56 games scored in the 80's (27%)

78 games scored in the 70's (38%)

38 games scored in the 60's (18%)

17 games scored in the 50's (8%)

7 games scored in the 40's (3%)

4 games scored in the 30's (2%)

1 game scored in the 20's (0%)

Total: 207 games

The Xbox One has the following breakdown:

2 games scored in the 90's (1%)

34 games scored in the 80's (23%)

56 games scored in the 70's (39%)

29 games scored in the 60's (20%)

17 games scored in the 50's (12%)

5 games scored in the 40's (3%)

1 game scored in the 30's (0%)

1 game scored in the 20's (0%)

Total: 145 games

An analysis of this breakdown shows that PS4 games are on average better received than Xbox One games. The PS4 has a higher percentage of its games scored 80 or above (30% to 24%). The PS4 also has a fewer percentage of its games scored 60 or below (31% to 35%).

In conclusion, the PlayStation 4 has more games, better reviewed games, more exclusives, a comfortable sales lead, and slightly more impressive technical specs. With the recent announcement that Sony is going to focus specifically on building up its PlayStation brand, the choice in this generation's console war is clear. If you're on the fence between getting a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One, choose the PS4. It has a better library of games and seems to have a brighter future ahead of it in the coming years.

Posted: 26th Feb 2015 by Alexander Hinkley
Xbox One, PlayStation 4,