Sony's PlayStation 5 outspent Microsoft's Xbox Series X three to one in launch ads
During this busy holiday season, both Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox new video game consoles—the PlayStation 5 and the Series X, respectively—continue to sell out as soon as retailers fill their shelves. While the competition between the two consoles is stiff, so far the PS5 is outselling the Series X internationally in markets like Japan, and analysts are predicting the new PlayStation will outsell the new Xbox over time like it has in the past.
Ad spend could be a large reason why sales are falling in Sony’s favor. It’s difficult, of course, to directly link ad spend with sales at this early period, especially since both companies could be intentionally limiting their products in the marketplace, but based on ad spend alone, Sony’s PS5 has already soared over its rival.
Sony spent three times as much on ads as Microsoft did in the month ahead and immediately following their console launches—the PS5 launched on Nov. 12 and the Xbox Series X on November 10.
From October 19 to Nov. 15, Sony spent $15 million on ads for its PS5, while Microsoft spent about $5 million on ads for the Series X, according to a new report from advertising and sales intelligence platform MediaRadar, which analyzed ad spend across print, TV and digital.
The report found that Sony spent about $7.3 million up to the day of launch, while Microsoft spent about $3 million. Although competitor Nintendo did not release a new console, the report found that it too increased its ad spend. From Nov. 2 to Nov. 15, Nintendo’s ad spend was 138% higher than the previous two weeks.
Thanks to those three category leaders, Todd Krizelman, CEO and founder of MediaRadar, says the two-week period at the start of November (Nov. 2 to Nov. 15) was the most active for the video gaming category in terms of ad spend so far in 2020. Overall, the video game industry spent more than $45 million on ads, up 80% year-over-year.
The last month that came close was in April, when the coronavirus pandemic began keeping people in their homes in cities across the country. That month, the gaming category spent $46.2 million on ads, up from $21.4 million in January.
The report found that the launches of the consoles led to increased ad spend across video games and game retailers in that time period.
New video games like the popular Call of Duty Cold War and Assassins Creed Valhalla were released to coincide with the launches of the new consoles and, therefore, ad spend around video game titles increased by 76% year-over-year. Game retailers also saw ad spend increase by 28% year-over-year.
As for mobile app games, Krizelman says the week of Nov. 9 was the first time since April when ad spend for mobile app games was up year-over-year. For that week, mobile game apps saw an increase of 23% compared to the same point last year. Krizelman believes the pandemic has contributed to a drop in mobile game ad spend until the week of Nov. 9. “It is likely that less commuting and time on-the-go resulted in less advertising from mobile app games during this time,” he says.
While ad spend varied wildly during the launches, Sony and Microsoft ads for their consoles were surprisingly similar. Both PlayStation and Xbox took viewers to fantastical worlds, including outer space, in ads promoting the respective launches of the PS5 and Series X.
Sony PlayStation paid homage to intrepid explorers of the past in a cinematic spot:
Microsoft’s Xbox featured “Get Out” and “Black Panther” star Daniel Kaluuya, who embarks on a journey through the gaming universe.