The PS4 Is Outselling the Xbox One Because It Appeals to 'Swing Gamers'

Xbox diehards are holding out for a deal while dual-platform gamers are opting for the PlayStation 4's better specifications.
PS4 vs Xbox One

Although the Xbox One had been selling well out of the gates, it recently came to light that the PlayStation 4 has charged ahead; in fact, in January Sony moved twice as many units of its latest-generation console than Microsoft did. For some, this may come as a surprise, since the Xbox 360 was generally considered to be the dominant console in the many years before these new consoles came about.

So why is the PS4 outselling the Xbox One? We surveyed 1,727 of our readers and discovered that the answer is a complex mix of price, specs, and brand loyalty.

PS4 vs Xbox One

Xbox 360 Users Remain Brand Loyal, But Can't Afford to Pay Retail

Frequently with advanced software-driven technology, consumers will feel inclined to remain within the environment that they're familiar and comfortable with. This is why so many people struggle with the jump from iPhone to Android, for example, or vice versa. It follows then that these next-generation video game console purchases might be influenced by what shoppers owned previously in terms of gaming.

Not surprisingly, 42% of Xbox 360 owners (that is, users who owned only an Xbox 360) opted for the Xbox One, while 51% of PlayStation 3 owners veered towards the PS4. The number one reason cited for why these shoppers purchased what they did? Brand loyalty (at 32% for Xbox 360 owners and 30% for PS3 owners).

Despite this expected result, there were notably a higher number of former Xbox 360 users who didn't purchase any new console yet, claiming that the price was too high and that they were waiting for a deal. (In fact, double the number of Xbox 360 users who didn't buy a new console cited price as an issue, compared to PS3 users who also didn't buy one.) It would seem then that PlayStation devotees are more financially prepared to jump into the next generation of gaming because of the lower retail price, whereas Xboxers are patiently waiting for a more affordable opportunity.

dual owners

The PS4 Has Won Over 'Swing Gamers'

Interestingly, 44% of the 1,700+ respondents in our survey noted that they owned both the PS3 and Xbox 360. This is likely because those consoles have been around for so long and prices have dropped tantalizingly low in recent years. As such, this would suggest that almost half of console gamers are familiar with both platforms. And while they might still prefer one over the other, the competitor was not foreign to them, likely making it easier to "jump ship" if there was a good enough reason to do so.

Thus, we looked at how these "dual owners" behaved in the face of next-generation gaming, and as it turns out, a higher percentage opted for the PS4 vs the Xbox One. (35% vs. 23%; see the results above.) The number one reason for their selection? Specifications, perhaps latching onto the assertion that the PS4 has a better graphic output. Moreover, a slightly higher percentage of former Xbox 360 users made the switch to PS4 than the reverse; 8% of PS3 owners bought an Xbox One, while 14% of Xbox 360 users bought a PS4.


The Xbox One Is a Best Bet for Holdouts Who Want a Discount

The primary reason people had for not buying either of the consoles was price; either the cost was too high, or users claimed to be waiting for a deal. Luckily for these gamers, our research on the price history of the PS3 and Xbox 360 shows that these consoles began to see discounts after four to five months. That would mean that the next-gen systems would see discounts of about 10% beginning in March.

Of course, the situation is different this time around; when the Xbox 360 and PS3 debuted, there was no deal on either platform for several months. Thus far, we've already seen a handful of discounts on the Xbox One, dropping the console to as low as $475 (or 5% off).

Conversely, there have been no deals on the PS4 console alone. Given the fact that the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One, this is perhaps not surprising. And, coupled with the news that Microsoft has already lowered the price of the Xbox One in the UK (slashing £30 off, or about $49.87), further discounts in March or April seem all the more likely. That said, Microsoft would have to cut a full 20% off in order to even match Sony's low MSRP.

While diehard gamers will likely buy whichever console appeals to them at retail price, our survey suggests that Microsoft could draw more of its own budget-conscious fans into the next generation if it dropped the retail price on its latest console. But given the fact that a high number of gamers are familiar with both platforms, Sony may continue to win over those swing gamers with better specs and a lower retail price.

Readers, what do you think? Have you purchased a next-generation console? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments section below!

Related DealNews Features:
Lindsay Sakraida
Contributing Writer

Lindsay Sakraida specializes in writing about retail trends and lifestyle subjects. She's also obsessed with music, movies, and tennis. Follow her on Twitter at @LinSakraida.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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I think the question is why buy either when they have yet to have any console-exclusive games worth noting? The PS3 and 360 are still getting a decent stream of games. I just don't see the sense in buying a $400+ set top box when Rokus exist.

In the long run, I think PS4 will still pull out ahead between the two, if not for the fact that 1. it's cheaper and 2. if last gen was anything to go by, Xbox hardly had any games that you couldn't get on another console or PC. The second point is precisely why I'm more of a Steam/Nintendo type of guy. At least PS3 has Uncharted, God of War, and a few rpgs to count as exclusives.
The only thing Microsoft had to do was give me 1 reason to stay with them. They did not. Now even my rechargeable controllers alone would cost a fortune to replace since not a single legacy device can be used with the new system AND you have to pay extra for a recharge kit on top of the rip off price of the controller. I will be going to Sony as soon as they put out a must have game. I will add a hybrid sshd and smash my 360 kinect sensor since it was supposed to the cool things it does on the new system.

What does the Xbox One offer you in terms of "potential" when it comes to gaming? I purchase my consoles for gaming, not media, and there is no question that the PS4 has considerably more horsepower than the One, which means it will always have the better looking games with components like better A.I, etc. Microsoft has not shown how the Kinect will ever be useful for gaming beyond the niche casual crowd. There is no need to buy extra hardware for the PS4 to remain "fresh ad relevant", as it is a game console, not a gimmick machine, all you need is a controller and a enjoyable game. I agree though, both consoles are enjoyable, PS4 just offers more gaming value now and in the long run.
Both play games both have their respective exclusives. I bought the Xbox One for it's long term potential regarding it's entertainment integration, cloud syncing and content publishing. Yes the PS4 may have a lower price point and it's components generate a slightly better gaming experience, but after that what's left? Sony has given me no glimpse at what additional value I can look forward to by purchasing the PS4 now. However for those PS4 owners Sony might encourage you to buy add on hardware so the console can continue to stay fresh and relevant. When you think beyond the present and consider the future, out-of-the-box the PS4 might have already peaked. And for me that's why I paid a little more for my Xbox One...a small up front investment towards my future gaming and entertainment bliss. Regardless of your reasoning for the position you've take on this topic owning either consoles will give you a VERY SOLID gaming experience.

I guess I should have clarified that the article describes why I haven't bought an XB1 yet. Not to say that I'm a swing gamer. The PS4 is the lower hanging fruit and appears to be just as sweet, but in the last generation Microsoft provided many more exclusive games that I genuinely wanted to play. The probability of that happening again is seeming more and more likely. The only true thing driving me towards the Xbox One is Titanfall. I would love to see a real price change before I pick one up though.
I think what's most interesting are the two vastly different approach to the new gaming generation. Decisions that at the moment seem questionable could either really pay off in the future or fall flat on their faces.

Great time to be a gamer!

1) Pretty much flipped flopped on what sony did last gaming generation taking the more expensive price point this time around. Might bite them in the butt later on.
2) Both consoles are suffering from a roughly equal amount of failures this generation.
3) Wouldn't want to alienate your consumer base that you spent 8+ years building up now would you? Plus it's better for sales. Sell a title to a console that been out for 8+ years (360) or sell to one that's been out 6 months (x1) or do both. Choice is easy

Sony would do the same move when given the chance.

I can still see where your coming from on some points but playing a game like battlefield or forza on an xbox one is noticeably better than on the 360.

In the end a big factor that was left out of the survey choices is which console a majority of my friends will be on.
Love the xbox one. Great media integration and the kinect works over 90% of the time. The exclusives are top notch, too. Titanfall will be a game changer
1) More expensive
2) History of premature failures
3) Rolling out One launch titles like Titanfall on the 360

Why would a current 360 owner buy a One?

If you're interested, Ben Heck has put out podcasts of teardowns for both.
Kudos to Dealnews for publishing this article using the results from the recent survey. I look forward to participating in, and reading about, additional data-driven content like this.
@misterybacon - nothing you said described you as "on the fence". you want a ONE. its ok. you can admit it. but im sure the PS4 will hit whatever your price point is before the ONE will, what will you do when that happens?

@okani - Same goes for the ONE, neither next gen is backwards compatible

I own a ps3 and 360. so i bought both the PS4 and the ONE. i beat Battlefield 4, then never turned on the ONE, so my friend is borrowing it until i get Titan FAll (if i dont get it for PC). I play my PS4 a bit more then i did the ONE.

I still play my PS3 the most, just for GTA V. Though i did buy and beat The Last of US this weekend. (GF took the 360)

my recommendation. unless you REALLY want to play Titan Fall or Second Son, WAIT for either. go back and buy a bunch of used games on the current system you haven't played yet. then pick up a ONE/PS4 next NOV/DEC.

though if i had to pick 1 today, i would say the PS4. (but i also have a gaming PC that gets most XBOX exclusives)
This article is my stance exactly. I own a PS3 and Xbox 360. I would like to keep both of these systems to periodically play old games and have a device to stream Twitch and Youtube to my television. I've been waiting on a great deal for the Xbox One and the game or controller bundles are good, but not hitting the mark. I'm a Microsoft console fan, from the original Xbox to now, I have always bought their system first. A price change is needed to reel in the on the fence customers like me.
I bought both the ps4 and xbox one at launch but returned the xbox one due to the fact that I take my console on the road or to friends house to play and I find that the ps4 form factor was much easier to do so. I think Microsoft made a bad move by trying to incorporate cable tv and such which I believe made the console bigger? Titanfall since only for PC and xbox one might be the only reason for me to buy the xbox one again.
Just remember PSN has been giving free games every month for each system PSP, VITA, PS3 n PS4 ad long as you have PS+. Each game can be downloaded up to 2 different systems.Thats what I call a deal ;D
just remember, PS4 won't support PS3 games, so it is a lot more investment going forward where in PS3 games will be on sale for cheap.
I have not bought either yet. I have been talking constantly about getting an XBOX One, but the more I think about it and the more I read the more I am swayed to the PS4. XBOX's approach from the get go has been kind of a screw you to the customers. I know they have withdrawn a lot of their original plans, like needing to be constantly online, but the fact that they tried to implement them in the first place was insulting. The $500 price tag is also a big hit, especially since it does not have the same performance power as the $400 PS4. I am an avid 360 player. I have both a PS3 and a 360, and I haven't touched my PS3 in over a year.But this is a new generation and a chance for both sides to reinvent themselves. To me, Sony has shown more respect to gamers and to the indy development crowd. Thats why when it comes time to make that purchase i'm going PS4.