Whenever a new games console is released, there’s a huge amount of money pumped into marketing the hardware as well as a push to get it on to store shelves in as many markets as possible. There’s a good reason for that: you need as big a user base as possible, as quickly as possible, to recoup the costs of developing the new machine and start making a profit.For this new generation of hardware Sony seems to have gotten that right, where as Microsoft is in danger of getting it horribly wrong. The reason? Availability.Back in June at E3, Microsoft announced that it intended to release the Xbox One in 21 countries come launch day in November. However, by August that plan had been revised to just 13 countries. The other eight — including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland — now have to wait until 2014.That was a blow for gamers in those countries, but also for Microsoft, because the PS4 would gain an advantage simply by being available in those markets. But how long would gamers be left waiting for the Xbox One in these countries?Although not officially confirmed yet, it is thought that Microsoft has delayed the launch until the third-quarter of 2014. So, at the earliest, some or all of those countries won’t get the Xbox One until July, but it could be as late as September.When Microsoft originally announced the fact the company would only launch in 13 countries this year, the reason given was to ensure “customers get the best Xbox One experience the first day it is available.” It seems unlikely that remains the reason they would delay a launch 8-10 months.The situation looks worse if you also consider Asia. Microsoft has already confirmed it won’t be releasing the Xbox One in Hong Kong, India, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan until late 2014. Japan also doesn’t have a release date. In total, that’s 14 markets where Microsoft isn’t offering any competition for Sony for most of the next year.The Xbox One does not use any brand new tech beyond the revised Kinect hardware. In fact, the internals of the PS4 and Xbox One are very similar. There should be no issues manufacturing the Xbox, so you have to look to Microsoft’s organization to see why launches are being delayed and staggered months apart. Was this simply not planned well enough?When the sales figures roll in at the end of 2014, it seems inevitable that the PS4 will have a huge lead over the Xbox One. We could be talking millions of consoles here. And the reason is one of availability. If your competition is making its product available in 14 more markets than you are, and based on launch sales, matching you in the markets where your console is available, you simply can’t “win.”And could this situation get any worse? Quite easily, actually. A year from now Sony may be in a position to lower the price of the PS4, meaning Microsoft may be launching the Xbox One in some countries with an even greater price differential than the current $100 gap. Of course, Microsoft could also lower the price of the Xbox One, but that’s a lot of profit being thrown away, especially when you consider the additional costs of marketing surrounding a launch for each new market.