Should Sony And Microsoft Be Required To Report Accurate Sales Numbers For The Xbox One And Playstation 4

Recently Microsoft announced 10 million units sold for their Xbox One gaming system. Considering some of the prelaunch difficulties and negative publicity the system had to endure this truly is an impressive achievement. Sony on the other hand has sold upwards of 14 million units and as we’ve reported before may see their lead shrink over the holiday season in large part due to a $50 price reduction and a couple of system exclusive titles that Microsoft will aggressively market.

No sooner had the sales information come out before reports began circulating that Microsoft was counting number of systems sold to retail outlets and not the actual number of units sold to consumers. While some may say this is splitting hairs, if you look at an average retailer having 5 to 10 systems in stock at any given time then multiply that by the number of retailers worldwide offering the system, you definitely can see the potential for number disparity. Combine that with larger retailers such as Amazon, Target, and Best Buy who have large and growing online sales distribution networks, the potential for thousands upon thousands of systems to be currently on a shelf waiting to be sold increases dramatically.

When you combine this stat with a global perspective and factor in the number of overseas retailers also in play, it can be very accurately know just how many of these systems are in the hands of consumers.

Sony on the other hand is counting the actual number of units that have been sold to consumers. Interestingly enough it was reported that Sony used to use the units sold to retailers to bolster the sales numbers for the PlayStation 3.

For the average consumer and this does not mean much other than bragging rights for their favorite system however there can be external factors that come into play.

For example if a publisher is in negotiations for a system exclusive title knowing that of 10 million units sold to retailers perhaps only 8 million might be actually in the hands of consumers can make a huge difference. Let’s speculate at an unannounced title and say for the sake of argument that TitanFall 2 is in development and that Microsoft is eager to once again have it be a brand specific title. They can come to a publisher and tout their impressive 10 million units sold to retailers while Sony can come out and say we have over 14 million units sold and in use by consumers. From a publishing standpoint it makes it a bit harder to justify ace title being system exclusive when you have the potential to exclude 14 million confirmed customers versus 10 million speculated customers.

Now the how’s and why’s about why this is done range from publicity wanting to increase the perception that the Xbox One as a thriving and growing system and is gaining ground on their chief rival. This also has the added benefit of potentially making investors and shareholders happy as well as perhaps tipping the hands of undecided shoppers. All companies have their tricks for marketing and all of it is designed to increase the profitability of the company as well as awareness of a brand name in an effort to get you to buy the product.

With that in mind it is funny to me that there is not a uniform system in place for this sort of information where companies will have to specifically say this is the number of systems, titles, accessories, etc., That have been sold directly to consumers.

To me this tends to eliminate a lot of debate in confusion as you’re dealing with strict numbers. 10 million units sold to retail can be very nebulous if several hundred thousand to millions of systems are sitting on store shelves and in warehouses. To me it seems only right that a uniform standard be accepted when reporting data of this type. Companies are very quick to tout these numbers for their PR purposes but when the data is open to interpretation making the actual hard numbers nebulous to dissertation it can send misleading signals to the consumers at large.

One thing is for sure expect lots of number touting as we go into the upcoming holiday season and beyond by both sides.