For the first time in a while, it seems we have a legitimate home console horse race on our hands. Until now, Sony's PlayStation 4 has been the runaway winner this generation, but that may be about to change. The Nintendo Switch is making a swift break for the front of the pack, and Microsoft is making their own moves with the powerful new Xbox One X.
When the dust has cleared, who will have "won" 2017 by moving the most units? PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or the Nintendo Switch? Scroll down for our analysis, educated sales estimates, and predicted winner…
2017 Sales as of June 30: 6.2 million units
Sony has owned this console generation so far, but they may be starting to show some hints of weakness in 2017. This past quarter PS4 sales slumped slightly, with Sony shipping 3.3 million PS4 units, which is down from the 3.5 million shipped during the same period last year. That's not a huge drop, but any drop at all has been rare for Sony this generation.
The rest of the year may continue to be somewhat slow for PlayStation, as Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Gran Turismo Sport are the only A-list exclusives coming for the rest of the year, and there's no new hardware coming out to rile up the hardcore fans. Of course, Sony does have one big ace up its sleeve – a price cut. Permanently knocking $50 (or more) off both the standard PS4 and PS4 Pro this holiday season could spark some impressive sales. Sony has said they want to sell around 18 million PS4s this year, which I think may be a bit ambitious, but I do believe they'll get close.
Predicted 2017 sales: 17 million unitsprevnext
Sales as of June 30: 4 million units (estimate)
Microsoft stopped reporting Xbox One sales a while back (never a great sign), but according to industry analysist SuperData, Xbox One had sold around 26 million units as of the beginning of 2017, and it's estimated they were almost at 30 million as of June 30. So, the Xbox One has probably sold around 4 million units so far this year.
Microsoft doesn't have a lot of big exclusives to offer this year, Crackdown 3 and Forza Motorsport 7 won't be big console movers, but, of course, the Xbox One X is the big unanswered question. Will Microsoft's hardcore base snap up the souped-up system, or is its $500 asking price just too much? I do expect Xbox One X will boost Microsoft's numbers at least somewhat this holiday season.
Predicted 2017 sales: 10 million unitsprevnext
Sales as of June 30: 4.7 million units
No doubt about it, the wind is at Nintendo's back right now – they've already sold nearly 5 million Switches, and the system launched in March, so the company was starting at a disadvantage. The excitement for the system is still huge, with stock selling out as soon as it hits shelves, but, unfortunately, that's part of the problem.
Nintendo hopes to produce as 18 million Switch units this fiscal year (which ends next March), but their efforts are being severely hampered by an industry-wide shortage of electronic components. If Nintendo can't figure out a way to outmaneuver giants like Apple and get the parts they need, all the Nintendo Switch hype in the world won't matter. I expect Nintendo will sell ever Switch unit they make in 2017, but ultimately, it won't be enough.
Predicted 2017 sales: 15 million unitsprevnext
And Your Winner Is…
The PlayStation 4! The Nintendo Switch is a major disruptive force, but Sony has momentum and a reliable manufacturing pipeline on their side. That said, make no mistake, Sony is going to have to work for their crown this year (definitely expect that PS4 price drop), and we may have a new champion in 2018. This console war is heating up, and hopefully the renewed competition will benefit fans.
Speaking of which, as always, don't take this console war stuff too seriously. Play what you want, on what you want, and don't worry too much whether your machine is winning. A fun game is a fun game, regardless of whether you're playing it on the PS4, Switch, or Virtual Boy. Well, okay, maybe not the Virtual Boy.prevnext