However, now that we're five months removed from the hype, we're seeing a clear favorite emerge. Sony claims to have sold 7 million PS4 systems to consumers, and Microsoft revealed late last week that it has shipped just 5 million systems that have been sold to retailers. In other words, the gap of actual ownership is actual wider than the difference of 2 million consoles. Microsoft may have led Sony in the previous generation, but it's coming up short this time around.
It's In the Game
Video game industry sales have been sputtering for four years, but it was believed that new systems would help renew consumer interest in dedicated gaming machines. When Nintendo's (NTDOY) Wii U fell well short of the Japanese giant's initial projections during its rollout ahead of the 2012 holiday season, the market figured that richer specs from Microsoft and Sony would provide salvation.
Microsoft stumbled. The cost was $499, a full $100 higher than rival PS4, and to please publishers, it planned to copy-protect the system. Users would need to be logged in to play, and only original registered discs would work. In other words, used games would be toast.
Sony may have hinted at a similar strategy, but it quickly recoiled. Microsoft retreated from its aggressive stance, but the damage was done. Gamers that made the Xbox 360 this country's top platform couldn't trust Microsoft anymore.
Thinking Outside of the Box
March should have been a good month for Microsoft. The release of "Titanfall" -- a game only available for the Xbox One -- should have given it the upper hand. It did help pick up sales, but according to industry tracker NPD, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in every month of 2014.
A new executive heading up the Xbox One promises a return to the platform's gaming roots. Microsoft spent too much time playing up the system's TV viewing features and voice-based Kinect controls. Nearly half of Microsoft's Xbox One unveiling during last year's E3 was spent showing off the device's smart television tricks.
That's certainly not going to happen when E3 rolls around again in June. Microsoft is going to make sure that it takes an approach that caters to diehard gamers first.
It's the right approach, but is it too little, too late? Great proprietary games can go a long way in the forgiving process, but Microsoft has a lot of ground to make up.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft.