It’s been years since we’ve seen new models of the major gaming consoles battle head-to-head in the marketplace. And Sony‘s PlayStation 4, in its first weekend, has set a high bar in initial sales for Microsoft to try to beat later this week when it releases the Xbox One. Sony’s stock is +1.5% thus far today — when most stocks are down — following the company’s announcement yesterday that it sold 1M PS4s in the first 24 hours after Friday when it was released in the U.S. and Canada. “Sales remain very strong in North America, and we expect continued enthusiasm as we launch the PlayStation 4 in Europe and Latin America on November 29,” Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House added. Even so, Benchmark Co analyst Mike Hickey notes that the roll out was “marred” by reports of a problem: “A pulsing blue light in the centre of the console, nicknamed the Blue Light of Death in tribute to the Xbox 360′s infamous ‘Red Ring of Death’, has reportedly heralded the doom on hundreds of bricked PS4s,” he says in a report. A company spokesman in Tokyo told Bloomberg that these are “isolated incidents and represent a very small percentage of total units shipped to consumers to date.” Still, Sony posted several suggestions for consumers to fix the problem “while we investigate.”
Later this week the spotlight will shift to the Xbox One. It’s billed as a gaming and entertainment device while Sony is more narrowly targeting gamers. The different approaches “will influence the choice of some early adopters,” IHS Electronics and Media says. It adds that “the strength of exclusives will also be key to consumer adoption” with Microsoft’s seen as “more formidable for a wider set of gamers, especially in the opening launch period.” Still, IHS expects Sony — whose consoles cost less than Microsoft’s — to sell 2.4M PS4s by year end, while Microsoft moves 2.2M. Some industry watchers — including my colleague Jonathan Geller at BGR.com — say that this could be the last major showdown for game console makers. Consumer electronics companies are packing enough processing power into tablets, smartphones and other devices to satisfy many gamers.