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Xbox One: Microsoft's 5 million 'sold-in' number shows PS4 expanding lead

Xbox One
Xbox One
Photo courtesy of Microsoft, used with permission

Sony shared how many Playstation 4 consoles it has sold worldwide so on Wednesday and Microsoft took its turn with Xbox One sales figures on Thursday. While the number is not bad at first glance, one single-term in the announcement will make analysts question the number.

“We’re also happy to share today that more than 5 million Xbox One consoles have been sold-in to retailers since our launch,” Xbox Corporate Vice President of Marketing, Strategy and Business Yusuf Medhi announced on the Xbox Wire. Note the use of the term “sold-in”.

When Sony announced that it sold 7 million Playstation 4s yesterday, it did so by stating “sold through” sales figures. That means the consoles were sold at retail to customers. Conversely, the 5 “sold-in” figure from Microsoft means that shipped that number of Xbox One consoles to retailers and not that they are in the hands of gamers today.

Why is this important? Microsoft’s “sold through” figure for the Xbox One was 3 million at the end of 2013 with approximately 3.9 million consoles shipped to retailers. Meanwhile, the PS4 “sold through” figure for the end of 2013 was 4.2 million units. Throw in the 7 million units sold through start of April and you begin to see Sony expand the sales gap between the two consoles.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Xbox One, however. Just because the PS4 is selling phenomenally doesn't mean Microsoft’s console is selling poorly. In fact, sales of the Xbox One are outpacing the Xbox 360 by 60 percent in the same time frame according to Medhi.

For the month of March, Xbox One sold more than 311,000 units in North America alone, according to the NPD. Meanwhile, the software side of the equation was positive as well with “Titanfall” taking the top spot, though it comes with the caveat that this was for the Xbox One and PC. The PS4 exclusive, “infamous: Second Son” sits at number two.

Meanwhile, the Xbox One software attach rate is 2.9 games per console. That’s a solid but not spectacular number for the console at this point in the life cycle and is approximately the same as the PS4 which has sold 20.5 million games at this point compared to the 7 million consoles sold.

Taken on their own, the Xbox One console sales figures and game attach rate are actually very good. However, the PS4 is selling, as mentioned before, phenomenally right now and doing so in nearly three times the number of countries that the Xbox One is currently available in. The PS4 isn't quite at the gonzo level of sales that the Wii reached post-launch, but it is exceeding the initial sales projections by Sony.