Report reveals how significantly the PlayStation 5 is outselling Xbox

PlayStation 5 consoles are selling faster than Sony can make them, and in the process, making a mockery of all things Xbox. We have all the details.

Ok, so that statement may be slightly inflammatory, but it’s largely supported by the facts. A recent report by data analytics firm Ampere Analytics suggests that the PlayStation 5 is outselling the Xbox Series X/S by more than 200%.

The report estimates that Sony have sold 2.83 million units in the first quarter of 2021, compared to Microsoft’s 1.31 million Xbox Series X/S consoles. Which, depending on how you want to look at it, seems a resounding victory for Sony in the console war.

playstation 5 returnal
Screenshot: Returnal / Housemarque

Possible explanations

However, before waving any white flags we should probably dig a little deeper. There is certainly more than one way to interpret this data.

The most obvious, although possibly misleading, reason for this difference in sales figures is the attractiveness of the console. Specifically, the number of currently available and upcoming video game titles that gamers want to play. Sony has a strong track record of releasing exclusive titles, and the PlayStation 5 already has a number of successful examples: Demon’s Souls, Returnal, and Astro’s Playroom, to name a few.

These acclaimed games are one reason many gamers may be choosing to pick-up a PlayStation 5 over a Xbox Series X/S.

playstation 5 astro
Image: Astro’s Playroom / Team ASOBI!

Microsoft’s launch strategy has been very different to Sony’s, instead choosing to focus on offering gamers many older Xbox One titles with improved performance, through their affordable GamePass subscription service. The flaw with this thinking is that Game Pass is available on the Xbox One too, meaning those making a decision based on cost and value might not enter the next-gen market at all.

Another explanation for the data is that these figures tell us more about the success of each company’s production facilities, rather than demand for the actual consoles. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have largely been sold out since launch. Finding either requires patience, planning, and importantly, a bit of luck.

playstation vs xbox
Image: Amere Games / Ampere Analysis

Although this argument doesn’t hold water, at least for me. The fact that Sony, a much smaller company than Microsoft, has been able to make so many more consoles than their competitor suggests to me strategic marketing from Microsoft.

The Law of Scarcity, and how it effects perceived value, may well be at play here.

So PlayStation 5 wins?

Not quite. While the PlayStation 5 has undoubtedly performed well in the console wars so far, there is still a lot of race to be run. Microsoft, and their recent studio acquisitions, have more than one ace up their sleeve that they will hope can turn the tide of the battle. It should also be noted that popularity is hardly a sign of inherent quality, with many tech reviews coming out in favour of Xbox’s general performance.

Besides if popularity really matters to you, or this debate, then the Nintendo Switch is murdering everyone, selling 5.86 million units in the first quarter of 2021 alone. Mama Mia!

mario happy
Screenshot: Mario Kart Tour / Nintendo