In a recent interview with The Guardian, Phil Spencer, who is Microsoft’s executive vice-president of gaming, revealed a lot about the new Xbox Series X/S and the future of Xbox. In a bit of a shocking revelation, Phil admitted that Xbox would not be disclosing the sales figures of their latest consoles.
Although many different console manufacturers have existed together comfortably for decades, both gamers and critics alike have found it hard to not compare the performance of different brands. However, this may prove more difficult in the modern gaming landscape where console sales figures do not paint the entire picture. In his interview with The Guardian, Phil Spencer unravels these complexities further. Explaining why Xbox will not reveal sales figures, he states the following:
In the last year we’ve had Google and Amazon and now Facebook announcing they’re coming into our gaming space. I’m not gonna go compete with their numbers based on how many Xbox Series X I’ve sold. [Google] is never gonna talk about how many Chromecast Pros they sold. They’re gonna talk about how many players they have.
Phil believes that consoles are becoming a niche market, and that the number of players you attract to your ecosystem matters far more than hardware sales. As Phil explains, “there are 3 billion people who play games on the planet today, but maybe [only] 200 million households that have a video game console”.
Xbox’s strategies as of recent demonstrate that their focus lies not with hardware sales figures, but with increasing their player base. Many games on Xbox are also available to play on PC, and Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that, for a monthly fee, gives you access to hundreds of games, has attracted over 15 million members according to Microsoft. Phil believes that Xbox Game Pass has been responsible for many of the riskier gaming releases Xbox has backed in the last few years. Phil argues that the episodic game Tell Me Why would not have been possible without the Xbox Game Pass user base to tap into. He also claims that the growth of Game Pass motivated the green-lighting of Flight Simulator, and bragged that they “had a million players of Battletoads!”
With the Xbox Series X/S already in the hands of gamers, the world will soon see whether Microsoft’s strategies will pay off. However, it is clear that in the current generation of gaming, console sales are not the bottom line.