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Sony sells 5.3 million PlayStation 4 systems, extends console war lead

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PS4 (Credit: Sony)

The PlayStation 4 is fast becoming a juggernaut.

In a statement early Tuesday, Sony announced that sales of their flagship next-gen console have topped 5.3 million units worldwide through February 8. That's significantly ahead of schedule, as the company was predicting sales of 5 million by the end of March 2014.

It also puts the PS4 within striking distance of the Wii U's life-to-date sales, despite Nintendo's system having had a one-year head start. Only 5.86 million Wii Us had been sold through by the end of 2013.

"I am thrilled that so many customers around the globe have continued to select PS4 as the best place to play throughout and beyond the holiday season," said Andrew House, President and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. " The PS4 system's momentum just keeps growing stronger, and we are extremely grateful for the continued passion and support of PlayStation fans."

The numbers are expected to spike once again on February 22, when Sony finally releases the PS4 in its home country of Japan.

Microsoft's Xbox One, meanwhile, has recorded sales of more than 3 million as of the end of 2013. That's not shabby, but it serves to underscore how powerful a launch the PS4 is enjoying. Edward Williams of BMO Capital Markets notes that despite the scarcer supply of PS4s in January as the company prepared for the Japanese launch, Sony's console outsold the Xbox One by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. That’s huge.

So why, exactly, is Sony’s system outselling Microsoft’s? There’s the price difference -- the PS4 is $100 cheaper than the Xbox One -- but Sony also seems to be winning the war in the court of public opinion. Many gamers are still miffed at Microsoft’s back-and-forth policy shifts during the run-up to the console’s launch. And while it’s relatively unnoticeable to most players, the PS4 continually gets the nod in terms of sheer muscle; the system reportedly outperforms the Xbox One in a number of third-party games, from the currently released Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition to the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.

Microsoft still has a few notes left to trumpet, however. The Xbox One has a better software tie ratio on the Xbox One, coming in at 2.7 titles for that system per owner vs. 2.1 for PS4 owners. And Microsoft should see a notable sales boost in early March with the release of Titanfall, which is exclusive to its console ecosystem (it’s also releasing on the PC and Xbox 360, though not the PS4).

While the PS4 is out front, Microsoft says it has no complaints about Xbox One sales so far.

"Xbox One consoles have sold at a rate of 2.29 times faster than Xbox 360 in the U.S. in the same timeframe for the first three months on the market," said Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for the Xbox.

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