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The NPD numbers are in for October, 2016 and there's a clear winner in North America: Xbox. The system outsold the PlayStation 4 by more than 25,000 SKUs and was helped on the market by the late October launch of Halo 5: Guardians. Microsoft's reps have a clear answer as to why the Xbox One won October, despite the PS4 taking a price cut during the month down to $349.99.
Supplying a statement to Gamespot, Microsoft's marketing corporate VP Mike Nichols stated the following as the reason the Xbox One beat the PS4 in October...
The strength of the greatest games lineup in Xbox history drove record Xbox Live usage for October and made Xbox One the best-selling console in the U.S. with 81 percent growth compared to October 2014,
While it's true the Xbox One is up 81% this past October compared to last year, all of the entire first half of that comment is categorically, critically, numerically and financially false.
Technically, one of the greatest periods for the Xbox brand was between summer and fall of 2007.
Microsoft had a strong late summer that led into the holiday season, with the timed exclusive release of Irrational Games' BioShock, which managed a 96 rating on Metacritic and went on to be a huge seller across multiple platforms. Later in August they had the JRPG exclusive Blue Dragon from Mistwalker Studios, which managed a 79 out of 100 on Metacritic. In August of this year Microsoft had the Rare Replay and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition as their major releases, peppered in with a bunch of indie titles. The Rare Replay managed an 84 on Metacritic and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition managed an 82 out of 100 on Metacritic.
Back in 2007 Microsoft followed BioShock with John Woo's Stranglehold, which was another timed exclusive, and the racing game Fatal Inertia. They then had the JRPG Eternal Sonata, another timed exclusive for the Xbox 360, in mid-September followed up with the September 25th release of the console exclusive Halo 3.
As far as big name exclusives in September for 2015 go, there was only Forza Motorsport 6, which managed an 87 on Metacritic. By comparison, back in October of 2007 there was Project Gotham Racing 4, which managed to hit an 85 on Metacritic.
What's interesting is that Halo 3 landed a 94 on Metacritic when it released, compared to the 85 that Halo 5 received on Metacritic.
Despite both games releasing around the end of their respective months – with Halo 5 launching on October 27th – Halo 3 helped push the Xbox 360 to over 527,800 SKUs being moved throughout September, according to a report from 1up.com. The Xbox 360 was the best selling console the month of September, 2007, beating out the Wii at the time, which moved 501,000 SKUs.
By comparison, NeoGaf has reported that Halo 5 helped the Xbox One move 303,000 SKUs throughout October. An argument, however, could be made that Halo 3 was buffered with other notable exclusives on the Xbox 360 to help push the hardware sales.
According to that 1up report Halo 3 moved 3.3 million units throughout the end of September, where-as the Neogaf stats show that Halo 5 only moved 935,000 units but still managed to become the best selling game of October, egging out a lead over NBA 2K16 and Assassin's Creed: Syndicate. Of course, the latter number does not accommodate for digital sales, so in a physical SKU comparison Halo 3 dominates clearly, but the numbers could look slightly different when accounting for Halo 5's digital sales.
As far as month-to-month sales comparisons with a big Halo release go, this year was not the biggest for the Xbox brand by a long shot if we're going by hardware sales, software sales and Metacritic. The Xbox One, even with the timed exclusive of Rise of the Tomb Raider, was not able to beat the 2007 line-up in sales, which also featured the release of Tomb Raider: Anniversary on the Xbox 360 in late October.
The Xbox 360 also had a follow-up from Halo 3 with the fall release of The Orange Box, Ace Combat 6 and BioWare's original Mass Effect in November.
The Xbox 360 had six major AAA exclusives released in October and November in 2007. By comparison, the Xbox One only has Rise of the Tomb Raider and Halo 5: Guardians. Hardly the Xbox brand's “greatest line-up”. They were mostly able to beat Sony in October of this year due to a poor showing of exclusives on the PS4's end and a lot of Black Friday deals leaking early showing Sony's console being discounted by up to $100, which likely prompted a lot of people to hold off on making a purchase in October.
On the upside, it at least looks like Microsoft is moving a lot of hardware units, increasing the Xbox One's install base steadily over the course of the year. Back in 2007 Microsoft reportedly shipped 6.6 million Xbox 360 SKUs throughout the year, according to their financial report. So if the Xbox One goes from the 10 million base they had at the start of the year to around 16 million by the time the year wraps up, they'll at least maintain a similar sales pace to the Xbox 360 back during that same time.
Overall, though, hardware across the board for October, 2015 was down slightly to $270 million compared to October, 2014's $271 million. The seventh-gen consoles saw a 66% sales dive while the eighth-gen consoles saw a 12% sales increase. According to the NPD, 96% of the hardware sales in October were from bundles.
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