With 10 million units sold since November, the PlayStation 4 is currently winning the latest console war. But as Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida recently told Eurogamer, even Sony doesn’t really know why.
Here’s one possible answer: Gamers just aren’t as brand-loyal as the fanboys online would have you believe.
According to data provided to Re/code, an April Nielsen study found that 31 percent of PS4 owners did not own Sony’s previous console, the PlayStation 3, but did own an Xbox 360 or Wii. Seventeen percent did not own any last-generation console.
The people surveyed were Americans, age 7 to 54, and were a subset of a total of 1,200 “active gamers” surveyed by Nielsen between February and April.
However, there’s one big caveat to the survey, which is that it asked only what consumers currently owned at the time of the survey, not what they had owned in the past. So, people who sold their PlayStation 3 in order to buy a PlayStation 4 would’ve been marked down as non-PS3 owners.
Assuming that most people didn’t do that, though, the numbers underscore why launching at a $100 lower price point than the rival Xbox One was so beneficial for Sony.
At launch, the biggest titles for the $499 Xbox One and the $399 PlayStation 4, according to the NPD Group’s retail charts, were all cross-platform. That is to say, people in November and December were buying games like Activision’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, EA’s Battlefield 4 and Take-Two’s NBA 2K14.
All those games were available on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and since neither new console was backwards-compatible with its predecessor, that meant if you wanted to play Call of Duty with your friends, they would have to buy the same console as you.
And if you have to buy a new console, why not buy the cheaper one? The Xbox One didn’t have a “big” exclusive title to justify the Kinect and its higher price point at launch (that pricing decision has since been reversed). While the PS4 didn’t have any top-selling exclusives at launch either, players elected to go with the cheaper option to play the same big games, because duh.
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