It has been reported today that the PS4 has beaten the record previously held by the PSP in 2005 to become the fastest selling console in UK history, outselling the Xbox One by 100,000 units in both launches first 48 hours. An impressive accomplishment indeed, but if you’re still sitting on the fence should this affect your decision in any regard?
It’s worth remembering that the majority of people who jump on new consoles day one are the hardest of hardcore gamers, fanboys, brand loyalists and people with too much money. Just to clarify, the difference between a “brand loyalist” and a “fanboy” is a brand loyalist thinks “Well, my Playstation 3 didn’t catch fire and I already know where all the buttons are, guess I’ll go PS4” and a fanboy is too busy chewing carpet and flaming the other systems message boards to think anything at all.
With this in mind, there’s only so much you can read from initial launch sales, especially since neither console is out in Japan until the new comes in. At time of writing the full figures haven’t been released, but it is highly likely that Xbox One is going to beat the PS4 in the states on early sales simply due to Xbox being a more popular brand there. Even if one console had happened to completely dominate the other in the early sales you can’t make a prediction to which system is going to “win” the console war on that alone.
Let’s look at the previous UK record holder, the PSP, as an example. Yes, if you had queued up for the midnight launch on the last day of August on one lukewarm British Summer day (it was probably raining) you would have got your shiny new Playstation Portable! The bad news: you got a Playstation Portable! In all honesty, the PSP is a nice little system that’s always got more internet flack than it’s deserved, but it did have to build itself a nice little niche that wasn’t obvious at launch.
The system would go on to have a nice range of JRPGs, retro updates, a couple of classic exclusives (LocoRoco) and Monster Hunter, jeez some people REALLY love Monster Hunter. However if you don’t love Monster Hunter and just used your system to play inferior versions of PS2 games like Burnout Legends or something you were probably disappointed. Even if you weren’t disappointed, you were still probably better off waiting for the vastly superior PSP 3000 model that came out years later. Of course, there was no way you could have known this at launch.
That’s really the defining point of all this. If you buy a system straight from launch then that’s an investment, because you believe for whatever reason that’s the system for you and possibly you’re planning on getting the other system some day anyway, also you absolutely CANNOT WAIT to play a shinier version of Call of Duty: Ghosts and pat the dog with Kinect (if this isn’t an actual thing, patch this in so it is an actual thing).
However, if you’re on the fence, then for now you’re better off to stay on the fence. Early sales figures really mean little, especially when compared to consistent sales figures, and they certainly can’t be used to predict what console will succeed when it’s all said and done. The Wii was dominating hardware sales worldwide for the longest time, but eventually dried up and ran out of momentum. The main reason for this? Games. After a couple of years the Wii no longer had the most interesting games (some would argue it never did) and the appeal flattened.
Never ever forget that no matter what hardware comes out, no matter what new controllers attempt to spark a revolution, no matter how much fanboy baiting cynical marketing the big companies push out, gaming is and always will be about games. Let that sway your decision, but don’t base it on the launch games, that would be insanity. Remember there was a time when the most hyped up game for the PS2 was The Bouncer. If you’re old enough to remember the early PS2 days then being reminded of that has probably just really depressed you, but it’s a point well made and a reminder to not get washed up in the tsunami of new console hyperbole.