It's one of the most widely watched showdowns this holiday season: Sony's PlayStation 4 versus MIcrosoft's Xbox One. And a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Sony would beat 'em up.

What makes this battle so key: it's the first major upgrade in years for gaming hardware.

Twenty six percent of the nearly 1300 U.S. shoppers polled preferred PS4; 15 percent picked Xbox One. And that gap widens among those under 40.

Two things may have swayed consumers. One, Sony's $399 console is 100 dollars cheaper.

"This is how you share your games on PS4."

Two, Sony said all along that used games were welcome on PS4 and trumpeted that in this video seen by millions on YouTube. Microsoft initially placed restrictions on used games but then caved under criticism.

Macquarie analyst Damian Thong writes the PS4 has "game-changing potential," saying, "A Sony that actually makes decent profits in electronics would present an enormous paradigm shift."

The pre-season scorecard so far: Microsoft would only say that preorders for Xbox One had surpassed those of its predecessor, while Sony says it has pulled in more than 1 million pre-orders. The battle begins mid-November when the consoles hit store shelves.