Sony Leads March Console Sales Ahead of Microsoft

Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 outsold Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One game console in the U.S. in March, holding the lead for a third month, as its rival tempted consumers with discounts and a popular new game.

Sony fended off the hot-selling new release for the Xbox One, the “Titanfall” shooter game, and more competitive pricing for Microsoft’s product, such as a $450 package at some stores that included a console and the new title.

“PS4 and Xbox One continue to see success with cumulative sales of the two consoles through the first five months currently totaling more than double that of their predecessors,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said in a statement yesterday. “Sony’s PS4 led hardware sales for the third month in a row.”

The PlayStation 4 game business is a cornerstone of efforts by Sony Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai to turn around the money losing, Tokyo-based electronics company, which has been hit by falling demand for TVs and cameras.

Since its November release, sales of the $399 PlayStation 4 video-game console have surpassed 7 million units worldwide as of April 6, Sony said in an April 16 statement. Microsoft has sold more than 5 million of its $499 Xbox One units, according to a blog posting on its Xbox site.

The Redmond, Washington-based company sold 311,000 Xbox Ones during March and 111,000 older Xbox 360s. Sony doesn’t release its monthly U.S. PlayStation unit sales. Microsoft fell 1 percent to $40.01 in U.S. trade yesterday.

Fighting Robots

Shares of Sony rose 1.3 percent to 1,932 yen at the close of trade in Tokyo while the benchmark Topix index gained 0.6 percent. Microsoft fell 1 percent to $40.01 in U.S. trade yesterday.

Spending on video-game hardware increased 78 percent to $395 million in March from a year earlier, as players continued to snap up the new machines, Port Washington, New York-based NPD said.

Microsoft was betting on “Titanfall,” an Electronic Arts Inc. shooter title introduced for its consoles on March 11, to spark sales of its device. “Titanfall,” in which players climb into fighting robots, is one of the most widely anticipated releases of the year, according to the review aggregator Metacritic.

Software sales fell 28 percent to $432 million last month. “Titanfall” was expected to be a lone bright spot, Piper Jaffray Cos. said in an April 16 report, in part because consumers are pulling back from games for old consoles and awaiting more titles to be released for the new machines.

Total U.S. retail spending on video games, including hardware, software and accessories, rose 3 percent to $1.03 billion in March, according to NPD.

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