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Microsoft's Multi-Platform Sales Trend Majorly Declining

Microsoft's Multi-Platform Sales Trend Majorly Declining

Written by Darryl — 21 Mar 2009

Following February's NPD sales figures, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all put together their respective media spin on their performance throughout the month. As part of this, Microsoft proudly declared that they're out-performing Sony on franchises previously associated with the Playstation brand, and to cap it off they declared that they believe Final Fantasy XIII will sell more comprehensively on the Xbox 360 than the Playstation 3.

Final Fantasy XIII isn't expected to be released in the Western world until after April 2010, over a year away. Microsoft should be commended for how well they've pulled the Xbox 360 up this generation, but their latest claim looks grossly misinformed, as even they surely must be able to see that when it comes to multi-platform titles, the Playstation 3 is in the ascendancy.

When comparing 68 multi-platform titles (nb: titles with split release dates have been excluded) from the beginning of 2007 up until the most recent titles, it shows that the Playstation 3 is very rapidly pulling in the Xbox 360. This is true when looking at purely North American sales figures, and North America combined with European figures.

The graph above is from the perspective of the Xbox 360, so to give a quick example; If the Xbox 360 version of a game sold 10 units, and the Playstation 3 version sold 5 units, this would work out at 100 percent more for the 360 (2x more) - so in the case of MLB 2K7, it sold 250 percent more on the Xbox 360 (3.5x more). However, if the Playstation 3 version sold 10 and the Xbox 360 version sold 5, this would result in there being -50 percent more sales on the Playstation 3 (2x more).

What this shows, is that since 2007, it's become a much more level playing field and some games are actually already selling more on the Playstation 3 - for example Tomb Raider: Underworld. The red trend line shows that while at the start of the cycle Xbox 360 games were selling at a ratio of 2:1, now they're now much closer to 1:1 and by the end of 2009, it wouldn't be far-fetched to predict that games will start selling more on the Playstation 3.

When looking at year-on-year titles, such as sports games, or others with iterations, it also looks increasingly positive for the Playstation 3. Franchises such as Need for Speed and Madden have seen their sales shift strongly towards the Playstation 3 between instalments.

The above graph is again from the Xbox 360's perspective, and while it looked extremely positive for Microsoft in 2007, 2008 seen the Playstation 3 cut very sharply into its gains. Madden has gone from selling almost 3:1, to 1.5:1 which cannot be understated. Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA have also increased their lead, mainly due to their presence in Europe, but Call of Duty's ratio remained relatively consistent.

While looking at multi-platform titles on a whole is important, looking at franchises paints a far better picture; one that's very distant from the picture being painted by Microsoft. Aaron Greenberg claimed that Playstation 2 users are moving to the Xbox 360 instead of the Playstation 3, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Microsoft claimed that Madden is a brand associated with Playstation and when looking at its figures it does show something interesting. Madden 09 sold approximately 500k more units than Madden 08, and the Playstation 3 version of Madden 09 sold approximately 630k more units than Madden 08, while the Xbox 360 figures stayed roughly the same (150k less). So that means that all of the new consumers went to the Playstation 3, not the Xbox 360.

There is also a stark contrast when looking at the combined yearly sales of the two consoles. In 2007, Microsoft sold approximately 32 million games on their system, which was 59% more than Sony. However, as shown in the graph below, this gap was considerably decreased in 2008, and 2009 has so far been a much more closely fought battle.

Throughout the year, it is assumed that the Playstation 3 will gain more ground with regards to multi-platform titles and going in to 2010, the Playstation 3 could very well have turned the tables. Street Fighter IV and Resident Evil 5 have had fairly even sales on both platforms, a far cry from titles earlier in the generation and given the fact that Final Fantasy XIII is scheduled to come out in 2010, the pendulum may very well swing the other way. It would then be highly likely that Final Fantasy XIII would sell more on the Playstation 3 than the Xbox 360; quite the opposite of Microsoft's bold claims.


Darryl was playing Final Fantasy before he was even born - quite a feat! Often very opinionated on the Final Fantasy franchise, you will often find him musing about small details. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.