Although the Xbox One had been selling well out of the gates, it recently came to light that the PlayStation 4 has charged ahead; in fact, in January Sony moved twice as many units of its latest-generation console than Microsoft did. For some, this may come as a surprise, since the Xbox 360 was generally considered to be the dominant console in the many years before these new consoles came about.
So why is the PS4 outselling the Xbox One? We surveyed 1,727 of our readers and discovered that the answer is a complex mix of price, specs, and brand loyalty.
Xbox 360 Users Remain Brand Loyal, But Can't Afford to Pay Retail
Frequently with advanced software-driven technology, consumers will feel inclined to remain within the environment that they're familiar and comfortable with. This is why so many people struggle with the jump from iPhone to Android, for example, or vice versa. It follows then that these next-generation video game console purchases might be influenced by what shoppers owned previously in terms of gaming.
Not surprisingly, 42% of Xbox 360 owners (that is, users who owned only an Xbox 360) opted for the Xbox One, while 51% of PlayStation 3 owners veered towards the PS4. The number one reason cited for why these shoppers purchased what they did? Brand loyalty (at 32% for Xbox 360 owners and 30% for PS3 owners).
Despite this expected result, there were notably a higher number of former Xbox 360 users who didn't purchase any new console yet, claiming that the price was too high and that they were waiting for a deal. (In fact, double the number of Xbox 360 users who didn't buy a new console cited price as an issue, compared to PS3 users who also didn't buy one.) It would seem then that PlayStation devotees are more financially prepared to jump into the next generation of gaming because of the lower retail price, whereas Xboxers are patiently waiting for a more affordable opportunity.
The PS4 Has Won Over 'Swing Gamers'
Interestingly, 44% of the 1,700+ respondents in our survey noted that they owned both the PS3 and Xbox 360. This is likely because those consoles have been around for so long and prices have dropped tantalizingly low in recent years. As such, this would suggest that almost half of console gamers are familiar with both platforms. And while they might still prefer one over the other, the competitor was not foreign to them, likely making it easier to "jump ship" if there was a good enough reason to do so.
Thus, we looked at how these "dual owners" behaved in the face of next-generation gaming, and as it turns out, a higher percentage opted for the PS4 vs the Xbox One. (35% vs. 23%; see the results above.) The number one reason for their selection? Specifications, perhaps latching onto the assertion that the PS4 has a better graphic output. Moreover, a slightly higher percentage of former Xbox 360 users made the switch to PS4 than the reverse; 8% of PS3 owners bought an Xbox One, while 14% of Xbox 360 users bought a PS4.
The Xbox One Is a Best Bet for Holdouts Who Want a Discount
The primary reason people had for not buying either of the consoles was price; either the cost was too high, or users claimed to be waiting for a deal. Luckily for these gamers, our research on the price history of the PS3 and Xbox 360 shows that these consoles began to see discounts after four to five months. That would mean that the next-gen systems would see discounts of about 10% beginning in March.
Of course, the situation is different this time around; when the Xbox 360 and PS3 debuted, there was no deal on either platform for several months. Thus far, we've already seen a handful of discounts on the Xbox One, dropping the console to as low as $475 (or 5% off).
Conversely, there have been no deals on the PS4 console alone. Given the fact that the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One, this is perhaps not surprising. And, coupled with the news that Microsoft has already lowered the price of the Xbox One in the UK (slashing £30 off, or about $49.87), further discounts in March or April seem all the more likely. That said, Microsoft would have to cut a full 20% off in order to even match Sony's low MSRP.
While diehard gamers will likely buy whichever console appeals to them at retail price, our survey suggests that Microsoft could draw more of its own budget-conscious fans into the next generation if it dropped the retail price on its latest console. But given the fact that a high number of gamers are familiar with both platforms, Sony may continue to win over those swing gamers with better specs and a lower retail price.
Readers, what do you think? Have you purchased a next-generation console? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments section below!
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