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Sony's PlayStation 4 Versus Microsoft's Xbox One: A Timeline


A review of the dramatic run-up to the latest generation of video game systems.


Ladies and gentlemen, the next round of the video game-console match between Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Sony (NYSE:SNE) is thoroughly underway. Though much has been said about the end of console gaming -- and the rise of mobile gaming on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android devices -- there's still enough consumer interest for Microsoft and Sony to continue to push the envelope and compete with each other.

The new systems, the Xbox One from Microsoft, and the PlayStation 4 from Sony, have joined the latest generation of consoles, launched by the somewhat disappointing
WiiU by Nintendo (OTCMKTS:NTDOY). (It was released in November 2012.) The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 feature incredibly detailed graphics, way-more-than-capable processing power, and multimedia functions that push them out of the narrow console category. Last year saw several controversies and dramatic moments leading up to the November launches of the systems. We recount that tale for you here.

February 20, 2013: Sony announces the PS4 at the company's "See the Future" event in New York. The device itself is not seen, however -- only discussed.

May 21, 2013: Xbox One is announced and revealed. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Phil Harrison explains in an interview with Kotaku that the Xbox One is "fundamentally designed to be expanded and extended by the Internet as many devices are today." He adds that the system has to connect with the Internet every 24 hours.

June 6, 2013: Trying to deal with controversy and confusion over the new online-required feature, Microsoft officially confirms that every game that runs on the Xbox One, online or off, will have to check in online every 24 hours.

June 10, 2013: Microsoft announces further details on its November launch, including that its system will be priced at $499. Meanwhile, Sony reveals the PS4 at E3, and also the crucial fact that it will not require an Internet connection to run, and that it will allow used games.

June 11, 2013: In an interview with Spike TV at E3, the video game industry's major trade show, Xbox Executive Don Mattrick calls the $499 console a "future-proof choice."

When asked how gamers without Internet access will be able to play the new Xbox One, Mattrick answers, "Fortunately we have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity. It's called Xbox 360."

June 19, 2013: Microsoft announces that it is reversing certain policies for the Xbox One and that the system will no longer require an Internet connection to play offline games. The company also announces that the software compatibility will not be restricted to only new games.

July 1, 2013: News leaks from an AllThingsD report that Don Mattrick will be leaving Microsoft and taking the position of CEO at online social-gaming company Zygna (NASDAQ:ZNGA).

September 5, 2013: Microsoft launches its first Xbox One ad. Instead of showing gameplay, the ad focuses on the multimedia aspects of the system, depicting fans watching football, not gamers playing games.

October 15, 2013: Sony launches the first TV ad for the PS4. The ad, like Microsoft's first, shows no actual gameplay but instead involves two friends in a series of fantastical competitions and battles. While they fight, race, and wage war, they sing the song "Perfect Day," written by Lou Reed in 1972. Lou Reed would later pass away on October 27, less than two weeks after the premiere of the commercial.

October 25, 2013: Sony announces that the PS4 would require a 300MB day-one patch to unlock many of the system's much-touted features.

November 15, 2013: Sony launches the PlayStation 4. Microsoft sends its congratulations, the image of which (shown below) is shared across the Internet.

November 17, 2013: Sony announces that the PS4 sold 1 million units in its first 24 hours of release.

November 22, 2013: Microsoft launches the Xbox One. Later that evening, the company announces that 1 million systems have already been sold. (It should be noted that Microsoft hit that million mark in less than a day by launching in 13 countries at once, while the PS4 hit 1 million in 24 hours with only the US and Canada receiving the early launch.)

December 3, 2013: Sony announces that 2.1 million PS4s have been sold since the November 15 launch.

December 11, 2013: Microsoft announces that Xbox One sold 2 million units in its first 18 days on the market.

December 12, 2013: Microsoft announces that Xbox One is the fastest-selling console in the USA, based on numbers from the NPD Group. In response, the NPD Group releases this statement: "PlayStation 4 sales included an additional week within the November data month compared to Xbox One. When looking at sales on an average per-week basis, Xbox One led PS4. Keep in mind, however, that supply typically becomes constrained in the second week after launch."

January 6, 2014: Microsoft announces that the Xbox One has sold 3 million units since its November 22 launch. Analysts and console-war nerds await the next numbers from Sony, though many believe Sony has also sold 3 million units by this point.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville
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