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TL;DR: The low-key fight between Microsoft and Sony that started last week has revealed an interesting fact about PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sales. The Redmond giant claims Sony moved more than twice as many PS4s as it sold Xbone units.
Microsoft has not divulged Xbox sales since 2016, but a probe out of Brazil prompted the colossal tech firm to put forward a general stat. The Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) is questioning Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard to determine whether the deal gives the tech titan an unfair advantage in the gaming sector.
According to the machine-translated document, Microsoft claims that during the last-generation console wars, PlayStation 4 outsold Xbox One by a factor of two.
"Sony has surpassed Microsoft in terms of console sales and installed base, having sold more than twice as many Xbox [consoles] in the last generation," the court document reads.
It's funny because Microsoft refuted that exact figure in 2018 when EA suggested the massive sales gap after analyzing its game sales on both platforms. Currently, Sony reports that PlayStation 4 lifetime sales sit at over 117 million, meaning that Redmond moved less than 59 million XB1 units.
While the PS4 and Xbone continue to have large player bases, future software sales will gradually shift to current-generation consoles. So it's unclear if the CADE will even consider last-gen hardware sales relative to the case when the nearly $70-billion deal finalizes this fall.
Microsoft was not forthcoming with current sales numbers for XBSX|S units. Early analyst estimates had Xbox Series sales dominating PlayStation 5 by 2:1 come Christmas 2020. However, they flipped their prediction on its head by January 2021, saying PS5 sales doubled that of XBSX. Of course, it's hard to honestly know where the two sit, considering neither has been forthcoming with actual numbers. Plus, the supply chain issues and the tech sector contraction have further muddied the waters.
Microsoft's Xbone-sales admission was in response to Sony's claim to the CADE that Xbox would have an unfair advantage if it made the Call of Duty franchise a console exclusive. The company contends that there is no way to compete with CoD and that it is "its own gaming segment," a complaint Sony has voiced since at least January.
Microsoft told the CADE it had no intention of making CoD exclusive because it would not attract enough new customers to make up for the lost cross-platform sales. The company states that the franchise has plenty of competition in the same genre, and its future success is by no means guaranteed.
"It is interesting to note that the list of the most popular titles sold also includes exclusive content from other consoles: Mario Kart, Super Mario, Animal Crossing, Pokémon, Super Smash Bros (Nintendo exclusives), and Spider-Man (PlayStation exclusive)," Microsoft argues. "In other words, Call of Duty is just a game in the midst of a wide range of bestselling games, many of which are not even available on Xbox due to exclusivity strategies adopted by Microsoft's competitors."
Masthead credit: Jiaqian AirplaneFan