Freshly released court documents have confirmed something that most insiders, pundits and fans already knew about the last generation: the PlayStation 4 outsold the Xbox One by more than two to one.
As picked up by GameLuster and run Google Translate (we don’t speak Portuguese here to verify this, but it will be fairly accurate), Microsoft’s own court papers state that “Sony has surpassed Microsoft in terms of console sales and installed [sic] base, having sold more than twice as many Xbox [One units] in the last generation”.
From that simple fact, and previous estimates and details from analysts, we can figure out roughly how many Xbox One consoles Microsoft was able to sell last generation. The PlayStation 4’s lifetime sales are now set at around 117.2 million units, as Sony has stopped reporting PS4 shipments in their last financial statements, meaning that the Xbox One sold, at the very most, 58.6 million. That figure is likely lower, as Microsoft halted production on the older machines in 2020 to pave the way for the Xbox Series X|S. Not long after, analysts figured the sales to be around 50 million – see VGChartz, Statista.
The confirmation comes as Microsoft and Sony face off in the courts over the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft. The acquisition is being investigated by Brazilian anti-competition agency CADE, and Sony is arguing that Microsoft then owning Call of Duty would be a major threat to their console business, dampening consumer enthusiasm for the PlayStation brand if they can’t get their first person shooter.
For Microsoft’s part, they’ve maintained that Call of Duty will remain cross-platform, initially honouring the content agreements signed by Activision, before looking to the future of the money-spinning franchise. They also note that Sony has dramatically surpassed the Xbox brand over the last generation and don’t look even remotely threatened financially. Microsoft also claims that “due to brand loyalty”, it’s unlikely that Xbox will catch or surpass PlayStation through the coming generation, though the company is making key bets on game streaming and subscription services to broaden their reach.
Looking back on the Xbox One, 50 million consoles is hardly a failure when considered in isolation, but it absolutely pales in comparison to its rivals, with both PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch surpassing 100 million units sold. Microsoft knew they were behind almost from day one, and after touting a handful of launch statistics to show the Xbox One as the fastest selling console in the family, quickly stopped sharing sales and shipment figures publicly.