Xbox One vs PS4: which console won Christmas?

Thanks to staggered release schedules, we’ve been robbed of a good old-fashioned console war for several years now. But, with Microsoft and Sony launching the Xbox One and Playstation 4 within a few weeks of each other in November, the tail end of 2013 once again presented the opportunity to put the devices back to back. So, which of these two consoles won Christmas?

Early indications from December suggested Sony was significantly ahead – and those figures appear to have been borne out by recent announcements.

Earlier this month, Sony claimed it had sold 4.2m PS4s globally up to December 28. Microsoft has been cagier on its numbers, but did reveal that “over 3m” Xbox One consoles had been sold in 13 countries by the end of last year.

Judged on purely technical terms, the difference between the consoles is fairly marginal. While Playstation probably still has the stronger brand, I suspect the main differentiator is price. The PS4 retails in the UK around £80 less than the Xbox One. In an economy where take-home pay has stagnated, it’s not hard to see why it’s shifting more units than its rival.

In the longer term, performance is likely to come down to the games made available on each console. But with so many of the biggest sellers appearing on both platforms now, this is less of an issue than it once was.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for the poor old Wii U. Nintendo has downwardly revised its sales estimates for the year to March 2014 from 9m to 2.8m. And while its 3DS handheld was the biggest seller of the festive period, its larger sibling is already starting to look like a lost cause.

If this Christmas confirmed anything, it was that the great console war remains a strictly two-horse race.