PlayStation 4 sales hit 5.3 million before Japanese debut

Sony appears to be pulling ahead early in the race to sell next-generation consoles. The PlayStation maker announced Tuesday that it estimates it has sold 5.3 million PlayStation 4 consoles to shoppers worldwide as of February 8. That's before the PS4 goes on sale in the company's home market of Japan on Saturday.

Sony's latest PS4 count comes after market research firm NPD Group said the PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console in the U.S. in January.

Microsoft's Xbox One was the leader during the all-important holiday shopping season, however. The most recent numbers from Microsoft put the Xbox One at 3.9 million consoles shipped to retail stores worldwide as of December 31.

During the run-up to the latest console debuts most game watchers pegged Sony to become the early leader, thanks to a smoother introduction with fewer controversial questions and a lower price than Microsoft's console.

Show me the games

But console sales tell only half the tale. While Sony may be selling more consoles right now, the Xbox One is apparently pulling in more gaming revenue, at least in the U.S. NPD's numbers say the Xbox brand, including the aging 360, pulled in more revenue from video game sales in January than competing gaming platforms, Microsoft said in a blog post.

So for now, Microsoft and Sony can each claim a few small victories as we wait to see which console will end up on top for this generation. 

While Microsoft and Sony are duking it out for console supremacy, Nintendo is still plugging along, with 5.86 million Wii U console sales total as of late December. The Wii U has been on sale since late 2012, however, and both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One should surpass the Wii U's lackluster popularity in the coming weeks.

Updated on February 19 to add a video report from IDG News Service.

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