The Xbox 360 didn't win the console war, the PS3 did!

It's a true underdog story. PlayStation 3 launched in Europe some 14 months after Xbox 360 in March 2007, delayed by a shortage of diodes used in its Blu-Ray drive, of all things.

When it finally did arrive, it came with a considerably bigger price tag than Microsoft's offering, and was plagued by second-rate versions of cross-platform releases. The writing, it appeared, was on the wall: Xbox 360 was going to win this generation's console war.

But incredibly, Sony turned that less-than-desirable start to its advantage, and as we stand on the precipice between seventh and eighth generation consoles and take stock of the last six years, any fool can see PlayStation 3 ends the era victorious.

PS3 Slim 2 close up
The PS3 has now outsold the Xbox 360

Numbers don't lie

Don't believe me? Here, have some numbers. Mattrick & co's box of tricks has sold 78.84 million units worldwide so far. Kutaragi's mean machine has sold 80.29 and counting.

In fact, PlayStation 3's still selling so well in its twilight that there's a genuine chance it can surpass the Wii's 100 million mark and enter the books as this generation's biggest seller hands down (let's be clear: no-one is buying Wiis anymore).

Those numbers are impressive enough at face value, but factor in Xbox 360's 14-month headstart and they illustrate a miraculous reversal of fortune for Ken's console. How it managed to keep shifting units while its competition was offering irresistibly beguiling titles like Kinectimals is some wonder.

PS3 slim 2
The third iteration of the PS3 is a looker...

The games

Yes, let's touch base with each console's respective games library, because it's here, particularly in first-party titles, that Sony really turned the tide over the past six years.

Microsoft started strongly with Halo 3, Gears of War and Dead Rising in its platform-exclusive ranks, and while Sony did have Resistance: Fall Of Man and Uncharted up its sleeve, you wouldn't say it had the edge in the early days.

Fast forward to present day, in which three stunning Uncharted games grace PS3's pastures, along with Gran Turismo 5, Metal Gear Solid 4, Heavy Rain and countless other first-party treasures. Xbox appeared to have a considerable ace up its sleeve with Kinect, and Peter Molyneux's Milo demo looked set to revolutionise gaming. The end result of all that tech: Kinectimals et al.

Sony's first-party releases this year alone include Naughty Dog's award-winning, critically beloved The Last Of Us, David Cage's ambitious and technically impressive Beyond: Two Souls, and Sony Santa Monica's gorgeous God of War: Ascension. They're just the big-hitters in a 13-strong lineup that also includes the likes of Puppeteer and a new Sly Cooper.

What exclusives have 360 owners had to console themselves with (apologies for the excellent pun) this year? Literally three games: Gears Of War: Judgement, State Of Decay and a re-release of Fable. If those aren't grounds to emphatically drop the metaphorical mic and leave this article, hands held aloft, I don't know what are.

Except I'm not done, because I haven't even begun to rile Xbox fanboys about having to pay a subscription fee for online gaming yet. Parting ways with £30 each year for the privilege of watching a Finnish tween teabag your Master Chief's corpse is a concept we'll never stop laughing at in the realm of PS3.

PS3 slim 2 controller
DualShock 3 is a great pad and that is a fact!

Your network sucks

The PlayStation network's had its problems and outages, but that's okay, because it's a service that costs you /nothing/, gives you multiplayer gaming, and an enormous online store filled with the latest releases, PS1 classics and indies.

There was that one extremely high-profile intrusion perpetrated by lovers of Lulz that we won't talk about or they'll DDoS my Quantum Leap fan fiction blog… But even in the midst of a Global PR nightmare, Sony came up trumps and gave you two free games from a list of four that included Infamous and LittleBigPlanet to say sorry. That, and 30 days of free membership to PlayStation Plus.

Yep, Sony has its own subscription service, and rather than holding a basic gaming right to ransom like Xbox 360's Gold membership, it showers you with free games and cloud saves. And let me stop you before you embarrass yourself by mentioning the free games you get with Gold membership, because I'm talking about games you'd actually want to play.

This month on PS Plus, Metal Gear Rising and Remember Me are the highlights of the instant game collection, replacing the likes of Far Cry 3 and Spec Ops: The Line in October. Over on Games With Gold this November? Iron Brigade and World Of Keflings. Both of which are usually priced at £6.75. You can go ahead and insert your Ferrero Rocher meme here, because truly you're being spoiled.

Microsoft had an open goal in the early days of this generation, and PlayStation 3 cunningly built a wall of fantastic first-party titles in front of that goal in the six years that followed.

Verdict

It's been a miraculous turnaround for PlayStation 3, and Sony's carrying a tremendous amount of that momentum into generation eight, where it appears to have the same kind of advantage Xbox did back in December 2005. Hold it together, Kaz…

Phil Iwaniuk is Games Editor of Official PlayStation Magazine UK. Stares blankly when the words 'Forza' or 'Master Chief' are uttered in his vicinity.