想在索尼公司（Sony）的PlayStation 4和微软公司（Microsoft）的Xbox One这两大游戏机的生死对决中判定赢家的人恐怕得等上一阵了。这两台分别于去年11月推出的游戏机一上市就势头强劲。由于太受热捧，现在想在索尼的日本总部找到一台PS4可能都变成了和游戏闯关一样的任务。
Anyone looking t¬o declare a victory in the videogame console showdown between Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One had better be prepared for a long wait. The systems, which each launched last November, are actually off to a strong start; so much so that even finding a PS4 in Sony's home turf of Japan could be a task worthy of a videogame adventure.
Sony (SNE) has surpassed the 6 million mark in sales worldwide for the PS4, and this includes 300,000 consoles that sold in the first week that the system went on sale in Japan in February. However, the number of sales dropped to less than 30,000 in the second week. It wasn't that gamers weren't interested in Sony's latest gaming console, but rather that the consumer electronics giant had experienced supply constraints -- partially as a result of trying to get more systems out in North America. The PS4 is available in North America for $399.99.
"Sony is ahead of where they expected to be," said Lewis Ward, research director of gaming at IDC. "They expected to reach about 5 million sales by the end of the March -- meaning that many systems would be shipped to stores. In fact, they have seen sell-through to consumers that topped 6 million. Sony is way ahead of where they wanted to be, but they are not taking a victory lap just yet. Sony as a company has been struggling in recent years, so they aren't exactly popping Champagne."
Sony took the unique move to raise the price of the system in Canada from C$399.99 to C$449.99, which the company said was needed "to respond to changes in the market environment." This could be an indicator that the company is very much focused on its own profitability as it addresses supply and demand challenges.
"Sony has been working hard to manage its inventory and regional product shipments. In the most difficult cases this can mean flying in consoles rather than shipping, and this sort of action can increase costs to Sony," said Piers Harding-Rolls, director and head of games research at IHS Technology. "Also it is clear that the U.S. dollar has strengthened against the Canadian dollar since launch, and with the company's costs in the region in U.S. currency, the price increase is there to smooth out the imbalance. A quick-fire move like this suggests that SCE is ready to do what it takes to drive profitability into the division as early as possible in the cycle. Understandably, this financial prudence is easier to implement while the PS4 is selling strongly."
Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox trails Sony with about 4 million units sold worldwide, and while on a global basis it is clear that the PS4 holds the lead, it is a much closer race in North America.
"The sales gap is closer, and with [the newly released game] Titanfall well-received this will have aided Xbox One further," Harding-Rolls told Fortune. "Sony hit all the right notes with its pre-launch strategy and stuck to its simple 'for the gamers' message. The console audience responded to this non-wavering concentration on gaming, whereas Microsoft's message was more generalized around a broader entertainment offering and watered down."
Then there is the issue of price. Microsoft's Xbox One came out at $100 more than Sony's PS4, and "the higher price also meant it was at a disadvantage," added Harding-Rolls. "In some markets a lack of price elasticity overcame residual brand loyalty and resulted in better momentum for the PS4 -- the U.K. is a leading example. However, both platforms have sold above and beyond expectations globally, and on this basis, there is a strong platform there for future success for both consoles."