Sony Expects the PlayStation 4 to Shatter — or Equal? — PS3 Launch-Window Sales

That'll be something to crow about if it's what it sounds like.

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Bloomberg’s running a story this morning in which Sony games boss Andrew House says he expects the $399 PlayStation 4 to sell five million units worldwide by the end of March 2014. That’ll be something to crow about if it’s what it sounds like: five million units sold through, meaning systems purchased by customers.

The PlayStation 3, by comparison, sold (through) in the vicinity of 3.5 million units during its inaugural sales window, from November 11, 2006 through the end of March 2007. Sony shipped closer to five million PS3s during that same window. The Xbox 360, by comparison, sold around 3.2 million units between its launch on November 22, 2005 and the end of March 2006, but went on to eventually outsell the PS3 by significant monthly margins in the U.S. (most notably during these past three years).

While the PS3 and Xbox 360 are neck-and-neck in global units sold (close to 80 million a piece), the Xbox 360 is well ahead of the PS3 stateside (the reverse is true in Europe and Japan). Neither system is within reaching distance of Nintendo’s Wii (over 100 million units sold worldwide to date), though the Wii U, which launched last November, is off to a pretty dismal start.

Bloomberg adds that House contrasted the PS4 five-million-units figure with “3.55 million units sold in a similar period for the PS3,” which means House is implying sold through, not merely shipped to stores to sit on shelves and wait to be purchased.

The PS4 lands on November 15, followed a week later by Microsoft’s $499 Xbox One on November 22. Sony plans to hit nearly three dozen markets by year’s end with the PS4, though it won’t roll the system out in Japan until February 22, hoping that a staggered international launch gives it some breathing room, availability-wise.