Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have shown less and less interest in the console wars over the last few years. The reasons for that are complex and varied, from how consoles are used more and more as tools, to the fact that selling you video games is more lucrative than selling hardware. But the latest snapshot of the video game industry from NPD hints that the console wars might be over for good.
The January report is full of intriguing tidbits like Monster Hunter: World moving five million copies in a weekend and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds moving steadily up the sales charts despite only being on PC and Xbox One. But in hardware sales, there’s a intriguing nugget. The Switch is number one in sales, but it’s close. Really close, as VentureBeat sums it up:
NPD reports that consumers bought more than 1 million consoles, the highest number since January 2011. The Nintendo Switch sold the most systems, but Sony’s PlayStation 4 generated the most revenue. Microsoft’s Xbox One rounds out the top-three consoles for the month. “PlayStation 4, Switch and Xbox One all performed well in the month of January,” said [analyst Mat] Piscatella. “In dollar sales, the gap between the top-selling platform and the third best-selling was only three percent.”
In other words, while the Switch is selling the most, it’s a razor thin margin, and everybody’s moving consoles. This has been the state of affairs for a while; the “distant second” Xbox One has been easily outselling the Xbox 360 by a staggering margin. The PS4 remains the uncontested champion of this generation, but it says a lot that it’s not sucking all the oxygen out of the room.
Gamers are used to there being clear winners and losers in the console market, but that distinction may be fading as gaming shifts more and more to the mainstream, and how console manufacturers make their money.