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PS4, Xbox One sales blow past their predecessors

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To say the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are off to a strong start is the understatement of the year.

The November sales of both systems topped not only the first month of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 - but sold more units than their predecessors did in their first three to four months following their launches, according to BMO Capital Markets analyst Edward Williams.

"According to NPD data, the PS4 and Xbox One sold through more than 1.1 million and 900,000 units, respectively, in the US during November," said Williams. "In the prior cycle, the PS3 and Xbox 360 took more than four months and three months, respectively, to reach comparable installed bases."

One downside of that success is the tie ratio for systems - that is, the number of games sold with each console - is down, per the NPD numbers. Right now, people buying a next generation system are purchasing two games to go along with it. That compares to an average of three games at the last system launch.

That's not as bad as it might sound, though. The last generation saw games bundled with systems at launch, and the NPD numbers don't include any digitally purchased games - something both Microsoft and Sony are promoting heavily this generation.

While software sales were lower overall in November compared to last year, the launch of the new systems is creating some unique patterns in how games are sold this year.

Typically, titles sell the most copies immediately upon release, with sales fading away in the following weeks. The launch of the new consoles, though, has reversed that - to an extent.

"Sell-through trends, this fall, have been different than in prior periods, with weaker initial sell-through and stronger subsequent sell-through," says Williams. "Battlefield 4 sold approximately half as many copies as Battlefield 3 in its first five days of launch, but the life-to-date unit sales of the game through the retail month of November are now roughly 20 percent lower versus its predecessor title. We anticipate this gap will continue to narrow over the next several months."

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