Study Explains The PS4's Popularity

According to a recent study, the PlayStation 4's popularity revolves around the console's mastery of high-resolution video output.

Nielsen Holdings, an infometrics company from New York, surveyed 4,400 gamers aged 13 and up about their console selection process. Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U owners were asked to describe the "main reasons" behind their decision. The results hit the web this week.

Many of the statistics are unsurprising. For instance, the study found that 90 percent of the people who purchased an eighth-generation console owned a system during the last generation. So, in essence, Nielsen found that console gamers buy consoles.

I didn't need a study to tell me that.

But some of the results are surprising, and they could point to a miscommunication between gamers and console developers. PlayStation 4 owners, for example, cited "better graphics" as the primary reason for their selection. But the differences in hardware between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are very small. The PS4 has a more powerful GPU, to be sure, but very few gamers can actually tell the difference.

In a highly unscientific experiment, the folks at GameSpot tested gamers' ability to spot differences in graphical fidelity. After playing a third-party title on a PlayStation 4, an Xbox One, and a PC, participants were asked to match their gameplay to the platform.

Most of them didn't do very well (I've embedded the video at the bottom).

The PS4's specifications are so similar to the Xbox One's that even the most seasoned gamer can barely spot the difference. Plus, even with their inferior graphical capabilities, the Xbox One and Wii U have no problem exporting 1080p. In fact, the Wii U library has more 1080p games than any other console.

But the PlayStation 4 is seriously outselling the competition, far more than the narrow boost in graphical power can account for. From where I sit, Sony's marketing team deserves a pat on the back.


Nielsen's survey also indicates that Xbox One owners are primarily driven by brand loyalty. Considering the public relations nightmare that Microsoft experienced just before releasing the XB1, brand loyalty seems like an unlikely motivator.

Nintendo fans, on the other hand, are persuaded by the "fun-factor," child appropriateness, and the price, all of which are completely valid. But very few people are buying Wii Us.

For me, the most depressing part of this study was how little attention is being paid to the games. PlayStation 4 owners ranked "Game Library" third, and the console's exclusive titles didn't even make the list. Nintendo has the best library of exclusives on the market, but they don't show up until the fifth bullet. And Microsoft customers said exclusives were the fourth most important factor even though the Xbox One has fewer exclusives than Sony or Nintendo.

It should be about the games. It should always be about the games.