Although Microsoft has abandoned most of the features and policies that gamers hated about the Xbox One, the next-generation home gaming console still faces an uphill struggle to compete against Sony's equally new PlayStation 4.
A new Reuters survey revealed that consumers are considerably more interested in Sony's new system than in Microsoft's — especially younger consumers.
Reuters collected data from 1,297 people via an online survey to gauge their interest in buying either an Xbox One or a PS4 this coming holiday season (both consoles will be released in North America in November). To be fair, not many people were interested in picking up a PS4 — only 26 percent (64 percent of consumers did not want a new console at all).
If interest in the PS4 was mild, though, interest in the Xbox One was positively anemic: Only 15 percent of respondents intended to buy one.
The data was even more telling when considering consumers under the age of 40. Out of 408 young people surveyed, 41 percent said they wanted a PS4 in November. Only 27 percent want the Xbox One.
Sales, not surveys, are the final arbiter of a product's success, but the numbers are still telling. Surveys that query more than 1,000 random people tend to be indicative of the general public's perceptions (as long as the sample population is truly random), and Reuters is a large enough organization to get Web traffic from a broad swath of the American public.
Although consumers initially greeted the PS4 with only mild interest, the reveal of Microsoft's Xbox One in May — which highlighted the device as a media streaming box rather than as a dedicated gaming machine — unwittingly endeared gamers to Sony's black box.
The two companies' presentations at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June reinforced those perceptions. While the Xbox One event paraded an endless stream of (admittedly very polished) shooters, the PS4 conference showed an enormous variety of game genres, and reaffirmed that streaming video and music to the PS4 would be free. (The Xbox One requires a $60-per-year subscription fee to access streaming services.)
At E3, consumers also learned that the PS4 would cost $400, whereas the Xbox One would retail for $500, due to its nonoptional Kinect motion-sensing peripheral, which cannot be turned off. The Xbox One was also going to restrict the sharing of games among friends and the playing of used games; the PS4 would not.
Although Microsoft eventually modified some of its more controversial positions on used games, sharing and the Kinect camera, the damage had already been done: The PS4 was easily the more popular choice among gamers.
Now, it seems, the PS4 is the preferred system among the general populace as well.
That said, most consumers are not very excited about buying any kind of new console this year. A full 64 percent of those surveyed by Reuters had no plans to invest in any kind of new hardware, be it a PS4, a Nintendo 2DS or a Steam machine.
No system, however, made out quite as badly in the survey as Nintendo's Wii U. Only 3 percent of respondents had ever played a game on one.