Feature: The Xbox 360 didn’t outsell the PS3, and now the Xbox One won’t beat the PS4

I’ve been a casual gamer for as long as I can remember. I loved playing Jumping Jack on my dad’s Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and still remember how exciting my first experience with the Atari was. A significant difference between gamers back then and gamers today is that back in the day, no one really cared which console was more popular. Gamers played, had fun, and respected one another.

Console wars isn’t a new concept, but this year, I think I’ve witnessed some of the worst console wars in history with gamers presenting illogical, poorly researched, and misleading arguments to defend their choice of consoles. One such argument involves sales.

“But the Xbox 360 outsold the PS3 and Xbox One can do the same. It’s just bad PR and gamers are just whining.” Wrong.

Let’s do simple fact checks. The Xbox 360 was launched one year before the PS3. Despite that, its latest sales figures stood at 77.2 million, whereas PS3’s stood at 77 million. This data comes from Microsoft’s earning release, and International Data Corporation, respectively. Even if I assume that these figures aren’t accurate, I’m conscious of the fact that the actual figures still can’t be off by millions. So with any errors accounted for, Xbox 360 and PS3 sold nearly the same amount of units.

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Any sane person will be able to look at these figures and assess that neither console outdid the other. And I’ve got more news, but this time, for both console owners. Nintendo Wii sold 99.8 million units, way more than the PS3 or Xbox 360.

Surprised yet?

The Xbox 360 was undoubtedly a success, but sales don’t define success. The Xbox One has a lot to offer to people who don’t just want to play video games, but it will be outsold by the PS4.

Xbox One isn’t going to be available in the entire continent of Asia at launch, and will skip over some important countries outside of Asia as well. Pull out a map, and it’ll give you an idea of what a massive market this is. While the console is set to launch in Asia in late 2014, it’s only going to be available in a few countries, and there’s no guarantee that people will be sitting around and waiting for the Xbox One to launch.

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And no, you can’t buy your console in the UK and take it to Malaysia. It won’t work. If you believe that these markets weren’t profitable anyway, then you’re wrong. Xbox 360 can be found in every country that has a community of gamers in it – from Pakistan to Guatemala. I’ve seen gamers in third-world countries fork out ridiculous amounts of money for consoles and games.

It’s wrong to assume that these countries are the hotbed of piracy and don’t account for software or hardware sales. I’m based in a troubled third-world country right now, and while piracy is an issue, the game shops that I found here sell original software, and are booming businesses.

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Unless we assume that every gamer in the list of approved countries will buy the Xbox One twice, PS4 will outsell it due to its worldwide launch and availability. Let’s accept that.

The world doesn’t revolve around civilians in developed nations, and the ignorance of a significant amount of gamers in this regard baffles me, especially when it comes to the always-on and pre-owned games policies.

A Harvard graduate and renowned corporate strategy guru, the late Professor C.K. Prahalad suggested that businesses should start thinking of poor nations as value-demanding consumers. He said that multinationals benefit from responding to the needs of these markets. He wasn’t wrong. Mobile phone companies Nokia and Samsung did exactly this, and are currently the world leaders in terms of sales, with a large proportion of their sales coming from third-world countries.

And then, there’s the military. The Xbox 360 was the console of choice for a vast majority of service members in various militaries around the world who enjoyed playing during their downtime. That will no longer be the case, thanks to the always-on requirement and the fact that Xbox One won’t work outside approved countries. I only recently shared the sentiments of the U.S. military, which you can read here.

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If gamers and companies are going to choose to ignore that there’s a world outside “approved” countries, or believe that gamers are people with access to the internet 24/7, then they need to stop presenting straw man arguments and educate themselves first.