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After being battered on the console sales charts by the Sony PlayStation 4, it looks Microsoft can finally be happy about the Xbox One. There have been almost 10 million Xbox One game consoles sold since launch, and with holiday shopping expected to be a major success in 2014, Microsoft should easily top that figure. The $50 price cut earlier in this month has helped sales triple over the past two weeks, with that sales trend carrying towards Christmas.
In a rather surprising twist, some are wondering if now is the time where Microsoft can outsell Sony during the holidays, when one month ago, that would have seemed like an illogical discussion.
It's good for Microsoft to see Xbox One sales increase, but it would appear that gamers are the true winners. In addition to both the Xbox One and PS4 - which have helped drive game sales - PC gaming, with extremely powerful hardware, has seen an impressive rise, just a couple years after many wondered if PC gaming was dead.
Microsoft has seen a spike in Xbox One sales, pushing it close to the 10 million mark, with the company saying sales have "more than tripled" in the US over the last week alone.
The 10 million milestone reflects the number of consoles Microsoft has sold to retailers, not consumers - but over the holiday season, I'm sure retailers won't have too many problems getting rid of the Xbox One consoles. The tripling in sales, represents a week-to-week comparison. The Redmond-based everything giant says that the boost in Xbox One sales is thanks to a bunch of new games.
We've seen Assassin's Creed: Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Sunset Overdrive, as well as the Halo: Master Chief Collection, all launch in the last couple of weeks.
Even though they're fighting against each other in the console race with the PlayStation and Xbox range of consoles, the companies are still friends in other forms of business. The latest news is that Sony has asked Microsoft for help when it comes to protecting its multimedia content on its PlayStation line of devices.
Sony has reportedly put up a listing asking for someone to join the company who is proficient in Microsoft's PlayReady, the Redmond-based giants content protection DRM solution, on its three major PlayStation devices: PS3, PS4 and PS Vita. Microsoft first launched PlayReady in 2007, which rode the back of massive investment and over 10 years of innovation. It allows content providers to deliver content, such as music and video, that limits users' options of sharing it around, without any proper authentication.
Sony is looking for a Principal Engineer who specializes in PlayReady, with this person joining a team that will bake the technology into multimedia applications across the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.
The current console market is fully consumed by the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One devices, though many often overlook Nintendo's Wii U. It's true that there are similarities in the game catalogs for both the PS4 and Xbox One, but that's because game developers want their titles on the two more popular consoles.
Here is what Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said: "If you look at the other two competitive platforms, fundamentally, what's the difference? They have a lot of shared content. Look at it from the standpoint of, what don't they have? They don't have our games. They don't have Mario and Zelda. I'd much rather be where Nintendo is, with a differentiated platform, differentiated set-up experiences that we can provide uniquely to the consumer."
It's true that the PS4 and Xbox One don't have Mario or Zelda - but a counter to that argument is that many game studios would rather develop games for Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo relies heavily on a small handful of game franchises, while the PS4 and Xbox One can provide a diversified product offering.
We already know that there should be a new Xbox One next year, based on AMD's shrunken 20nm system-on-chip, but thanks to Sony using the same APU from AMD, the PlayStation 4 should receive a similar upgrade.
Rumors are now floating around that Sony will adopt the 20nm SoC sometime next year, which should see Sony release a refreshed PS4 sometime in 2015. We're already seeing 16nm technology on the other side of the fence, so a shrink down to 20nm for the consoles would usher in more performance, slimmer consoles, and reduced power consumption. Right now, both consoles are using AMD APU's based on the 28nm process.
Microsoft and Sony haven't had any competition in the console space this year, but 2015 is going to be a very different year for the two tech giants. Oculus VR is positioning itself to release their first consumer version of the Rift VR headset, and Valve should usher in the Steam Box, Steam OS, Steam Controller and much more - competing in the living room directly against the likes of the Xbox One and PS4.
Sony has reported a nice $2.77 billion in sales for its Game and Network Services division, which is where the PlayStation just so happens to live. These sales represent an 83.2% increase year-over-year, which is all thanks to the PlayStation 4.
PlayStation 4 shipments totalled 3.3 million for the quarter, reaching a total of 13.5 million. When it came to operating income for Sony's Games and Network Services Division, it was at $195 million, compared to the $43 million for the last quarter, and up from the $37.6 million loss from the same three-month period of 2013.
Sony may be seeing success on the gaming side of its business, the company as a whole isn't doing too well, with operating losses of $766 million. The Japanese company has increased its loss forecast in September, pegging the blame on lagging smartphone sales.
Gamers in the United States and Europe will need to wait until 2015 before being able to get their hands-on the New Nintendo 3DS, as Nintendo wants to build a stronger following before a product launch in both markets, according to Nintendo President Satoru Iwata.
"In Japan, the total number of sales of Nintendo 3DS has reached nearly 17 million in the three and a half years since its launch," Iwata recently said during a financial call. "It is almost the same as the lifetime sales of Game Boy Advance released in 2001, which implies that it is reasonable that the sales of Nintendo 3DS have been temporarily slow moving in the Japanese market."
The New 3DS and 3DS XL are both available in Japan, and will launch in Australia and New Zealand later this month.
Sony confirmed there are worsening problems with the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Network, following the "Masamune 2.0" system update, according to reports. Formerly known as Standby Mode, the new "Rest Mode" is plagued by a bug that doesn't allow the console to power back on - and the PlayStation community forums have been flooded by angry gamers.
In addition to the Rest Mode problem, others have complained that YouTube functionality has struggled, with video uploads no longer working properly. Sony is reportedly working to address these problems, but didn't offer a time table for the fix.
"We are aware of issues reported by some PS4 users following the release of PS4's latest system software update, v2.00," Sony recently told GameSpot. "We are investigating these issues and will provide an update as soon as we have more information."
It is rumored Microsoft is working on a new cheaper and smaller processor for the Xbox One, with AMD currently developing a 20nm 'slim' model. The current CPU is a 28nm technology, but AMD and Microsoft wants to innovate - while also helping make the console smaller - to entice additional sales, as the console struggled to keep up with the Sony PlayStation 4.
It's worth noting that 20nm architecture is expensive, and with such high demand from smartphone manufacturers, prices will likely remain high.
"This opens the door to a much smaller cooling assembly and a thinner chassis, which in turn leads to cost benefits throughout the whole manufacturing and distribution process," said Richard Leadbetter, a well-known and respected technology influencer. "Smaller consoles mean less packaging, meaning cost savings in physically shipping the units out from China to retail markets worldwide."
Sony has announced there are 7.9 million paid subscribers to the PlayStation Plus service, while not confirming how many of the estimated 13.5 million PS4 owners currently subscribe. PlayStation Plus memberships cost $10 per month, $18 for three-month bundle, or $50 per year - providing at least $36.34 million per month and up to $79 million sales per month, depending on subscription plans.
PS4 gamers use PS Plus to unlock online multiplayer, and provides free games, game discounts, cloud storage, and other perks to subscribers.
Sony CEO Kaz Hirai said in last May that half of PS4 owners subscribed to PS Plus, and the Japanese electronics company will hope to add to that momentum in the future. Serving as the No. 1 game console in the world, easily outpacing the Microsoft Xbox One, Sony has great potential to continue to ride a wave of success into the Christmas holiday shopping season.