With Xbox One pre orders sold out for the launch of Microsoft’s upcoming game console, visibility into the actual number of reserved units is increasingly hard to pin down. Microsoft has announced, however, that Xbox One pre-orders are higher at this point than they were for the Xbox 360, an encouraging indicator for the tech company in light of its preliminary PR troubles and backlash related to various DRM policies that have since been reversed.
Xbox One pre orders are essentially sold out at all major U.S. retailers, including Amazon. The Standard unit, which is identical in functionality and form factor but won’t be available immediately upon the console’s release date, are still available at Amazon. Many brick-and-mortar retailers are no longer offering pre-orders due to the non-guaranteed release date of the Standard Edition; Amazon obviously still is.
Microsoft would seemingly be doing the happy dance based on this sold-out information, as well as recent NPD sales data that shows the Xbox 360 was the top-selling home console for the 30th month in a row in June. However, that information is only part of the game-industry story for last month.
NPD data showed that Nintendo actually won the sales battle in June among all gaming platforms, with its 3DS handheld earning the top hardware-sales spot for the second month in a row. Furthermore, Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4), which made a big splash at E3 alongside Microsoft’s Xbox One, realized pre-orders in much higher quantities than the Xbox One, with its launch-day edition and four separate PS4 bundles all selling out at Amazon. Select bricks-and-mortar retailers are still accepting PS4 pre-orders, although the release-date guarantee is hit and miss at this point. The cumulative totals of Sony selling out five distinct PS4 SKUs likely tempers Microsoft’s victory dance to a certain degree.
However, the fact that Xbox One pre orders are higher at this point than the Xbox 360 was prior to its release is certainly a positive sign for Microsoft. Prior to E3, Microsoft announced that an internet connection would be required to play Xbox One games offline, and that disc-based Xbox One games wouldn’t be able to be rented, traded or resold. The company saw significant backlash for the moves, a sentiment that snowballed when the Xbox One was revealed to have a price point $100 higher than the PS4. Sony’s PS4 saw an immediate and significant momentum swing, eventually resulting in Microsoft reversing its controversial DRM and used-game policies.
Initially the perception among gamers was that “the damage had already been done,” but Microsoft’s revelation about the Xbox One pre order volume being higher than Xbox 360 — which didn’t suffer from similar missteps — shows that Microsoft PR has largely recovered. The biggest winners, of course, have been the retailers, with Amazon reporting its biggest sales week ever as a result of PS4 and Xbox One pre orders.