Since the release of the original Xbox in 2001, the console wars have come to be dominated by two big names: Sony and Microsoft. With each generation, these two industry leaders have pushed the limits of hardware and constantly struck new ground in an effort to get the upper hand on each other. It was anyone’s game as the holiday season approached, and when the dust cleared, Microsoft had sold 908,000 Xbox Ones in December, along with 643,000 Xbox 360s, leading the Playstation 4 in sales that month.

The Hardware

With both consoles neck and neck in terms of top ten titles, the division seems to have come down to product availability and bundled hardware and social features. While both consoles allow for sharing screenshots and gameplay clips as well as recording and streaming content over the internet, only the Xbox One comes bundled with a camera, making it the simpler solution for holiday shoppers excited about this new direction in console gaming as well as the only option for accessing Microsoft’s Kinect technology.

While Sony’s PS4 is certainly a worthy competitor, product availability has been a major problem for Sony, leaving many Playstation loyalists high and dry. While such issues are common during launch season, things haven’t gotten much better for Sony since moving into the new year. It’s certainly easier to find a PS4 than it was three weeks ago, but production still seems to be lagging behind demand.

As Venturebeat’s Jeffrey Grubb reports, there’s another aspect working in Microsoft’s favor: the price difference. “With its $499.99 price point, the Xbox One led annual hardware sales on a dollars basis,” says NPD analyst Liam Callahan. While sales have proven that the difference in price is little impediment to consumers, the gamble has worked out in Microsoft’s favor, bringing in more money for each console sold.

The Software

Microsoft can expect its strong sales to continue through 2014 with the help of strong exclusive titles from both old franchises and new, with such exciting products on the horizon as Fable Legends, Quantum Break, and Sunset Overdrive. Xbox One players will additionally have an easier time taking advantage of the online features of any shared-platform releases, and with the top ten titles now consistently dominated by online games, it’s expected that the Xbox One’s advantage in this field will remain a continued attraction.

The Xbox 360 proved to be a fertile ground for indie titles, with Microsoft’s online marketplace providing a haven for small developers to release games that, owing to the lessened financial risk involved, are often able to break new ground and innovate in ways that larger developers may balk at. With a similar system in place for the Xbox One, fans of the quirky sort of games one often finds just off the beaten path will find a familiar place to congregate and explore the unpredictable world of indie gaming.

Now on its third console generation, Microsoft has a proven track record in sales and innovation. From its first iteration, the Xbox series has led the way in online gaming and social media integration. Already outpacing the PS4 in sales, it’s no surprise that Microsoft’s new console has enjoyed such success.

Tags : PS4SonyVideo GamesXBox