The PlayStation 4 has had the upper-hand on the Xbox One since the two consoles were first revealed and released in 2013. Sony looks to extend its console war advantage in 2016, and IHS Technology analyst Piers Harding-Rolls believes Microsoft will continue to face a nearly two-to-one deficit through the final nine months of the current year.
The Director and Head of Games Research at IHS provided an analysis of where both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One stand heading into the start of E3 2016 next week. Sony’s console has enjoyed a stark advantage, primarily in the European market, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
“As of the end of March 2016, Sony led the current generation console with sales of over 38 million consoles to consumers on a global basis. IHS expects the PS4 installed base to reach 53 million units by the end of year,” Harding-Rolls explained.
“Microsoft ended March 2016 with a little over 21 million consoles in the hands of consumers. This is expected to grow to almost 29 million by year end.”
The global appeal of the PlayStation 4 has helped the console extend its lead over the Xbox One, which is only competitive in the United States and United Kingdom markets. A recent launch in China has “failed to ignite,” per Harding-Rolls, while Microsoft’s struggles in Europe are well-documented.
Both companies are expected to introduce new console hardware at E3 next week. Sony will strongly feature the PlayStation VR headset for the PlayStation 4, but is also rumored to introduce an upgraded version of the console, code-named “Neo.” This PS 4.5 is said to include a faster CPU, faster memory, and a more powerful GPU to achieve 1080p and 60 frames per second (fps) on a more consistent basis. It will also help with VR games, where a steady frame rate is necessary to avoid potentially nauseous experiences.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is rumored to reveal the Xbox One Slim. This would be a more compact and cheaper-to-produce version of the current console. The “Scorpio” project is the one that has most fans raising their eyebrows, though. This potential successor to console is rumored for a 2017 release, with support for virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift. Rumors point to a reported performance target of six teraflops, a huge jump from the current Xbox One target of 1.3 teraflops.
The question is if Xbox can garner back the favor it lost from last generation with big E3 reveals.
“It is clear that E3 2016 is a pivotal moment for Microsoft as it lays out its vision for the Xbox One and broader Xbox games strategy,” Harding-Rolls asserts.
“Both Sony and Microsoft come to E3 with a different collection of messages, each aiming to resonate with its intended target audiences,” the HIS analyst continued. “Sony will be thinking about engaging a broader console audience and adding detail to its PlayStation VR content offer to underline its unique proposition.”
“Microsoft will be aiming to cement its Xbox One repositioning on the gamer and drive home the message of its exclusive content, its Xbox Live feature set and its broader Xbox Live platform play across console and PC.”
Harding-Rolls does add a warning message about the new rumored hardware announcements, however. He believes any strategy “which ends up fragmenting the console userbase will not be well received by games publishers and could, justifiably, alienate existing customers. The negative implications of such a strategy suggests that it is commercially less likely.”
Xbox Head Phil Spencer previously stressed the importance of games being forward and backwards compatible. Whether that will solve the issue of a fragmented userbase from a developer and publisher perspective remains to be seen.
[Image via NeoWin]
[Update: Added clarification that the sales predictions are through the final 9 months of 2016.]