Numbers Game: Xbox One Outpaces PlayStation 4 in U.S., PS4 Tops in Overall Sales

Brace for the spin-pact.

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Microsoft, Sony

Sony may have the edge in worldwide PlayStation 4 sales, but in the U.S., Microsoft’s Xbox One sold faster, said Microsoft in an email citing NPD retail data. But in overall sales, the PS4 — which launched a week earlier than the Xbox One — has Microsoft’s console beat, says Sony.

Both companies announced sales of over two million units shortly after their respective launches, though Sony had laid claim to roughly 100,000 more units sold at last check. But those were worldwide figures, and Sony’s PlayStation brand has long been more popular in Europe. In the U.S., by contrast, where the Xbox 360′s managed to keep well ahead of the PS3 for most of its tenure, the Xbox One seems to have the home advantage in sales rate (bear in mind console supply issues may have impacted this figure — it’s not clear to what extent either system had allocation issues).

Microsoft says NPD figures reveal 909,132 Xbox One units were sold stateside during the fledgling console’s initial nine days — that’s about 101,000 consoles per day, “significantly outpacing the nearest competitor,” adds Microsoft.

Then again, those are sales in the U.S. alone. Factor all of North America, and Sony claims it has Microsoft beat by a (sorry for the pun) country mile, selling over one million PS4s in less than 24 hours.

So much of this is how you spin the numbers, of course, and both sides are spinning furiously. Microsoft says total retail spend on the Xbox One — $1.21 billion — was the most for any console in the U.S….which couldn’t have anything to do with the $100 price differential, of course. Sony, for its part, says the PS4 was the top-selling console in the U.S. for November…which couldn’t have anything to do with Sony’s one-week head start, right?

What else. Sony says the PS4 launch was “the biggest ever in the history of game consoles.” That one’s actually kind of impressive.

But given how relatively close both systems remain, however you spin those figures, this is all pretty much sturm und drang — posturing for the sake of narrative momentum. If you want to know how things are going to shape up in the months to come, you’ll want to have a look at each console-maker’s software lineup. It’s what’s on tap in 2014 that’ll determine whether one system’s able to bolt ahead of the other.

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