Recent reports suggest that the PS3 has passed the Xbox 360 in sales. On N4G we've seen articles saying that it really doesn't matter, and we've seen users disagree. This blog is meant to explain all of these articles that all have titles along the lines of "PS3 passes Xbox, so what?"
Back in 2005, it was common on the internet to see the fanboys of the day raving about how the Xbox 360 would be the next Dreamcast and be absolutely crushed by the PS3, which had no confirmed release date but was obviously in the works. At the time, SONY's PS2 had outsold Microsoft's Xbox almost 6-1. The PS2 was far and away the winner of the 6th generation of console wars and the Xbox, mostly know for 'Halo', had been crushed. These ideas that the PS3 would obliterate the Xbox 360 weren't too far fetched, as the end of the generation saw increases in PS2 sales, furthering its lead.
In 2006, when the Xbox 360 had sold 10 million units, it was hailed as a success, but it still seemed clear that while it may survive, the PS3 would still dominate.
When the PS3 was released, it failed to attract the attention SONY was hoping for. It would take years for most of the PS2 install base to move to the PS3; some never would. For the first few years of its existence the PS3 was a triple threat in the worst kind of way. Its games were lackluster (in comparison to the greats on the PS2), its price ($600) was a huge turn off for most consumers, and it was evident SONY had no idea online gaming would play such a large part of the seventh generation, as the PS3 had come ill-prepared. It would take years for ever the most basic online features to be implemented. At this point, PSN didn't have the online features of the Xbox (original, not 360), and the online atmosphere would be silent and lonely. All these issues contributed to poor start for the Playstation 3. Solid in comparison to the Xbox 360, but pathetic for a console that sold over 100 million units for the last two generations.
Around 2008 was when the PS3 finally started to get some decent games and the PS2 owners began to migrate. At this time, the PS3 had pulled ahead of the Xbox 360 in monthly sales and was closing the original 10 million gap. It was clear then that the PS3 would eventually outsell the Xbox 360. The more exciting story was the David and Goliath like tale of the underdog Xbox doing nearly as well as the once mighty Playstation brand.
When I had heard in September of 2012 that the PS3 had outsold the Xbox 360, I thought "Finally". That turned out to be false, but I reacted the same way to the most recent report.
Of course the PS3 would outsell the Xbox 360. The gaming world has known this for over 4 years, it was no secret. And at the rate things are going, it looks as if the PS3 will lead over the 360 for the rest of the generation.
If you're looking for a pissing contest, then the PS3 outsold the Xbox 360. Fact. However, if you're looking beyond simple sales data, you'll see that Microsoft, with the help of Nintendo, have effectively dismantled the mighty Playstation empire and made a Playstation console about equal to its competitors. The same console that killed the last two generations with over 100 million consoles sold, at times outselling the competition 6-1.
Sony will look back at this generation with shame. They lost approximately 50% of their market share. Microsoft on the other hand tripled their market share and have established themselves among the console maker elites. Microsoft is not Sega. The PS3 is not the PS2.
While Sony may have cracked a smile after outselling the competition they should have crushed 7 years after the fact, you can bet that they will be looking to put this generation behind them as quickly as possible. At Sony HQ, one can only imagine that the plan for the PS4 is "what we did with the PS3 didn't work, we need to change it". No longer will SONY enter a generation with the arrogant attitude of an overkill winner. Hopefully this experience has humbled them.
Microsoft meanwhile, who tripled their sales (and counting) from generation to generation will be celebrating the huge success of the Xbox 360 and how they can repeat their performance and triple the sales of the 720.
That doesn't sound like a loser to me.