It’s Way Too Early To Call a Black Friday Winner Between PS4 and Xbox One

on November 30, 2014 4:37 PM

Yesterday the market research firm Infoscout published its data about console purchases for Black Friday in the United States, showcasing a wide margin victory of the Xbox One, but is the competition already settled?

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To answer that question we need to look at Infoscout’s methodology, which is indicated at the bottom of their post.

InfoScout panelists submitted 180k+ receipts over the course of Black Friday. The data includes purchases at all major retailers carrying electronics including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop, RadioShack, and others.

You would say that a pool of over 180,000 customers is statistically relevant, but those don’t seem all to be console customers. The methodology indication seems to be missing a rather relevant piece of information. Let’s take a look at last year’s post.

Of over 102k shopping receipts tracked by InfoScout on Black Friday, slightly over 1,500 included purchases of a gaming console or console game. The data includes purchases at all major retailers carrying electronics including Walmart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop, RadioShack, and others.

Last year the firm actually mentioned that only about 1.5% of the receipts examined were related to consoles. This year that indication is missing.

Unless things changed radically, it’s very unlikely that all those 180,000 receipts are related to consoles. If we assume the same proportion between console purchases and those of other products, we’d end up with a statistical pool related to consoles of roughly 2,650 receipts.

That would be a pretty decent number, but it’s hardly something I’d call a final settlement of the contest, especially considering last year’s results.

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According to Infoscout’s data, last year the Xbox One would have obliterated the PS4 on Black Friday with a proportion of over two to one in sales.

While we don’t have precise sales numbers for Black Friday alone, NPD data indicates that the PS4 overcame its rival in November 2013. While Sony’s console had one more week on the market, Infoscout’s data shows the Xbox One as the best selling console during the biggest shopping day of the year, and it conflicts rather starkly with NPD’s results, probably due to the fact that that statistical pool specific to consoles isn’t enormous.

This doesn’t mean that Infoscout’s data is irrelevant or faulty this year, but we should remember that statistics are just statistics, and when they’re not based on overwhelming numbers they can definitely be overthrown by reality. Ultimately, mentioning the specific number of console-related receipts like last year would have gone a long way in clarifying the relevance of the poll.

It’s very possible for the Xbox One to have won the day. As a matter of fact, due to the very high value brought by its deals and the strong exclusives released recently, I’ll chalk it as almost probable (incidentally, the Assassin’s Creed Unity Xbox One bundle just surpassed the PS4 Black Friday Bundle again on Amazon’s chart. They’ve been passing each other all over the weekend), but my impression on the trending data we can see from retailers’ homepages is that the contest is going to be close, and whoever will win, the margin will be much smaller than a whopping 19% in market share.

We’re still waiting for info from Infoscout on how big  the pool of receipts specifically related to console purchases is, and we’ll update our coverage accordingly if they get back to us. In the meanwhile, we might want to wait for NPD data before we start crowning winners. They’re gonna be released on December 11th at 6:30 PM EST.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.