While we’ve previously talked about how the PS5 vs. Xbox Series X war likely won’t be won through console sales alone, it’s inevitable that people will want to know which console is outselling the other at any given time.
To save you a lot of drama, we don’t know the full sales figures for either console as of yet. Nintendo recently revealed that they’ve sold 735,000 Switch and Switch Lite units in the US in October, but Sony and Microsoft are staying quiet at the moment in terms of each next-gen console’s total sales so far.
However, a little reasonable analysis of what we do know may tell us quite a bit about the sales success of the PS5 and Xbox Series X so far and which console is currently outperforming the other.
PlayStation 5 Sales
PS5 Japan Sales Numbers So Far: 118,000 units
Sony has not yet disclosed the official sales numbers for the PS5 (the numbers we have from Japan are based on a Famitsu report). It’s highly likely that they will not reveal the full official sales figures until the first quarterly report of 2021 or possibly closer to the end of the holiday season.
In lieu of any official sales figures, we really only have Sony’s production estimates to work with when trying to determine PS5 sales figures. Sadly, even those numbers are subject to some debate.
Initial reports suggested that Sony intended to make 5 to 6 million PS5s during the console’s first two quarters. However, the company later suggested that they may actually double those production estimates.
Not long after, a Bloomberg report indicated that Sony had to reduce its production estimates by about 4 million units due largely to hardware shortages and manufacturing issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sony was quick to deny those reports by informing GamesInudstry.biz that they “have not changed the production number for PlayStation 5 since the start of mass production.” Around that same time, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said that he expects the PS5 to “sell more in its first fiscal year than [we] sold in the first fiscal year at the time of [the] PS4 launch.”
That last quote actually gives us something to work with. Most reports indicate that the PS4 sold about 7 million units during its first fiscal year, with roughly 2.1 million of those sales coming during the console’s first two weeks of availability.
So, let’s say that Sony’s PS5 manufacturing estimates haven’t been drastically altered and that they still expect the PS5 to outsell the PS4 during its first fiscal year. For the moment, let’s also assume that every PS5 that has been made available via retail outlets so far has been sold (which seems reasonable based on the pre-order stories we’ve heard).
If all of that is true, then it seems safe to estimate that the PS5 may have sold over 1 million units at launch and could be approaching that two million unit mark as well. Then again, some analysts felt that Sony’s estimates were optimistic given the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the PS5’s price, and the fact that the PS4 is still being supported (with major games like Cyberpunk 2077 still on the way). However, it feels reasonable to assume the current sales number is somewhere around that 1 million unit mark, with just north of 1 million units sold being the most likely possibility.
Xbox Series X/S Sales
Xbox Series X/S UK Sales Numbers So Far: 155,000
Xbox Series X/S Japan Sales Numbers So Far: 21,000
During the Xbox One generation, Microsoft made a habit of not talking about console sales figures. In an interview with The Guardian, Xbox boss Phil Spencer stated that he doesn’t “want my team’s focus on [console sales]” and that he doesn’t plan on revealing Xbox Series X/S sales figures even if they’re better than the PS5’s sales figures. The numbers that have been reported so far are based on reports by Famitsu and VGC.
However, that doesn’t mean that Microsoft isn’t already touting the Series X/S sales success. In fact, Xbox’s Twitter team is already indicating that the console is a hit.
Well, “largest launch day ever” is a vague metric, to say the least, but it’s a fascinating phrase that may actually tell us quite a bit about how the Xbox Series X/S is performing thus far.
In 2013, Microsoft stated via the Xbox blog that the Xbox One enjoyed the “biggest launch in Xbox history.” That time, though, they specifically noted that more than one million Xbox Ones had been sold during the console’s first 24 hours of retail availability.
So, it seems that we can make the reasonable assumption that the Xbox Series X/S has outsold the Xbox One so far based on the similar wording of those announcements. That assumption is validated by the reports we’ve seen from the UK which note that the Xbox Xbox Series X/S beat the previous launch sales record set by the Xbox One.
While we strongly suspect the sales difference between the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S isn’t that great so far, an educated guess once again leads to the conclusion that over 1 million Xbox Series X/S units have been sold thus far. There again, though, we’re speculating that Series X/S numbers are being measured together in terms of total units sold, although Microsoft notes in a blog post that Xbox Series S added “the highest percentage of new players for any Xbox console at launch,” so that seems to be the case.
Put it all together, and I’d say that the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S are about equal in terms of sales, with each console selling over 1 million units thus far. We’re likely to see that gap widen over time as more games become available for each console, but the true test in this early stage of the war may be who can ship the most consoles in time for the first quarterly report of 2021.