Sony sells more PS4 units, but Microsoft’s Xbox One is catching up


Microsoft's Xbox One is gaining in the rearview mirror (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Sony eked out a win in the competition to be the best-selling console in February -- but just barely. Sales were practically neck-in-neck, and Sony actually made less money than Microsoft because of the $100 price difference between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

In February, the Xbox One sold "over 90 percent of what the PS4 sold in terms of sales," according to NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan, continuing to drive a console-fueled industry boom that saw all retail game sales up 9 percent over last month with a sales up more than 9 percent over the previous month. Total spending in the industry for February hit $1.4 billion.

Microsoft took the latest report as an opportunity to crow about the fact that the Xbox One is now selling at a faster pace than the Xbox 360, making it the most successful console launch in Xbox history.

"Xbox One continues selling at a record-breaking pace with 258,000 units sold in the U.S. in the month of February, surpassing Xbox 360 sales by over 61 percent at the same point in time," the company said in a blog post.

Sony didn't release new numbers off the report, but the company did confirm that it was the best-selling console in the United States this month. The firm previously announced sales of 6 million PlayStation 4 units, as of March 2. That outstripped both its own estimates and Microsoft's January report of shipping 3.9 million Xbox One units worldwide.

Whether Sony's diminished lead is the result of supply issues -- the firm has confirmed it will be in low supply through April -- or high anticipation over the recently released Xbox-exclusive console title Titanfall is hard to say. What is clear is that this gives Microsoft an opportunity to pull even with Sony in the early stages of the console wars.

The definitive answer, of course, of who really wins in this battle between what could be the last generation of dedicated consoles isn't the sort of thing that can be determined in a few months. But it is important for both companies to work hard to shore up their communities, since players who don't have a firm allegiance to one company or another are often just looking to buy whatever console lets them play the games they want with their friends.

Microsoft is hoping that the socially focused Titanfall -- which is available on Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC --  can be  the first "killer app" that makes the Xbox One stand out against the competition; Sony, meanwhile, is gearing up for a handful of new releases, including the March 21 launch of Sucker Punch's inFamous: Second Son.

On the game side of things, gamers have yet to indicate whose titles are winning the race. The top games for the month across all platforms -- this-generation, last-generation, PC and handheld --  were Call of Duty: Ghosts, The LEGO Movie Videogame and NBA2K14, followed by Thief and Grand Theft Auto V. With the exception of GTA V, which doesn't have a version of the came for the newest consoles,  all those games are available for both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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