By Dina Bass
Microsoft said Wednesday that sales of the new Xbox One video-game console reached more than 2 million in its first 18 days on the market, as the company vies to keep pace with Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 during the holiday season.
Sony said on Dec. 3 that it had sold 2.1 million of its machines since they went on sale Nov. 15 in North America. Microsoft, which introduced Xbox One on Nov. 22 in 13 countries, is selling pretty much every console it can get into stores and has “aggressive” plans to restock, said David Dennis, a spokesman for Xbox.
“Sales of both platforms are basically on par with each other,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco. “Production seems to be roughly the same ... and they’re both doing well at retail.”
Microsoft and Sony are trying to attract gamers against a backdrop of declining console sales. From 2008 to 2012, the market shrank 32 percent to $13.3 billion, according to researcher NPD Group Inc.
Both the $499 Xbox One and the $399 PlayStation 4 have more powerful graphics and entertainment applications than older models. To distinguish its machine, Microsoft has been pitching its motion-sensing camera, the ability to control live television and exclusive games like Ryse: Son of Rome and Dead Rising 3.
“We’re at 2 million at 18 days, and they were at about 2 million at 18 days, so we are running neck and neck,” Dennis said. He declined to provide a forecast for future sales.
Microsoft expects PlayStation 4 sales to top Xbox One when NPD releases its November sales data for the U.S., Dennis said. He attributed the lead to Sony’s extra days on sale in November.
After replenishing initial inventories, Sony and Microsoft each may sell about 3 million worldwide by the end of the year, according to projections by Sebastian as well as Michael Olson, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. in Minneapolis.
Jack Tretton, president and chief executive officer of Sony’s U.S. computer entertainment division, said last Nov. 11 that the Tokyo-based company is confident it can meet analysts’ sales estimates of 3 million units by year-end, and its own target of 5 million units by March.
Sony expanded sales of the PlayStation 4 on Nov. 29, and it was available in 32 countries as of Dec. 3.
Both consoles sold more than 1 million units in their first 24 hours in stores.