Analysts can't agree on whether Xbox One sales will catch those of the PlayStation 4 this year.
GamesIndustry asked a handful of industry analysts to give their predictions for the year, and three of the four polled were willing to make a prediction regarding console sales.
Gameplanet reader favourite Michael Pachter (Wedbush Securities) was up first, and predicted that the PlayStation 4 would retain its lead due to some enticing exclusives coming down the pipe.
“I think that Sony first party software will make a real difference in 2015,” said Pachter. “The company has a phenomenal lineup of exclusives, and they're spread throughout the year. This should keep interest in the PS4 high, and should allow Sony to extend its lead.”
He also suggested that Microsoft would permanently cut the price of the Xbox One to US$349 in the US.
Independent analyst Billy Pidgeon disagreed, predicting that the Xbox One's install base will equal that of the PlayStation 4 in 2015.
“Xbox One hardware is indeed selling stronger at the end of 2014, and this should continue into 2015,” said Pidgeon. “This is not because Sony is slipping, but because Microsoft is catching up. As hardware prices drop and exclusives and franchises begin to cluster on Xbox One, an ever-larger group of gamers is upgrading from Xbox 360.”
Finally, David Cole (DFC Intelligence) predicted that the Xbox One would lead in the US, but the PlayStation 4 would hold sway in the rest of the world.
“Sony has been relying mainly on its early momentum and has not done a great deal to really push the system,” said Cole. “At least in the US, we think this will catch up with Sony in 2015 as the Xbox One rides a general Microsoft marketing juggernaut. Of course, it says a lot that Microsoft has to spend that money to get market share, but money clearly does talk.”
Exact sales figures for each console are notoriously difficult to pin down, but the generally accepted wisdom is that the PlayStation 4 outsold the Xbox One for the majority of last year, before Microsoft's console rallied in the fourth quarter and holiday period to make up some ground.
Update: Sony must read GP, because the moment I published this story, it announced that PlayStation 4 sales have topped 18.5m worldwide as of January 4, and that there are currently 10.9m PlayStation Plus subscribers.