×

Microsoft Explains Why it Isn’t Releasing Xbox One Sales Numbers Anymore

The horse race between competing gaming hardware — PlayStation, Xbox and whatever magic Nintendo is selling — has nearly always been measured by the number of consoles each company sells. Even when a company is down it typically releases regular updates noting how many of its systems are out in the wild. But recently that’s changed.

It’s been about three and a half years since Microsoft released official Xbox One sales figures. In November 2014, the company said it had sold 10 million Xbox Ones. A bit more insight was gained in January 2016 when Electronic Arts noted in an earnings call that about 18 million to 19 million of the console have been sold. But it’s been radio silence ever since.

Meanwhile, PlayStation’s dominance continues, highlighted by regular updates of PlayStation 4 sold. As of March 31, the company last said, it has sold 79.8 million PS4. That puts it essentially even with the 80 million lifetime sales of the PlayStation 3. Nintendo, which launched its Switch just last year, recently said it has sold 17.8 million as of March 31. That already tops the Wii U’s lifetime sales of 13.6 million. Despite surprisingly low Wii U sales, Nintendo provided regular updates on its sales.

But in October 2015, Microsoft announced it would no longer be releasing numbers for how many Xbox One have sold. A reaction, it seems, to being lapped by PlayStation 4 sales.

Reached for comment this week, Microsoft reiterated that it still doesn’t share the number of Xbox One sold, but this time explained why, noting that it’s using a different “key metric for success.”

“We are continuing to look at engagement as our key metric for success and are no longer reporting on total console sales,” a spokesperson told Variety. “During Microsoft’s FY18 Q3 earnings, we announced that gaming revenue grew 18% year-over-year, driven by Xbox software and services revenue growth of 24%, and Xbox Live monthly active users grew 1% year-over-year to 59 million. We continue to see strong growth with time spent on Xbox Live, and look forward to bringing more unprecedented experiences on Xbox One, Windows 10 PC and mobile.”

It’s unclear if the numbers provided by Microsoft for Xbox Live monthly active users includes those on free trials, but if they don’t, that number may be one of the only public figures that offer any sort of apples-to-apples comparison to the PlayStation 4. The console, it was recently announced, has 32.4 million PlayStation Plus subscribers, up from 26.4 million the previous year. Nintendo, meanwhile, isn’t rolling out it’s paid online service until September.

The issue of pure hardware sales and Microsoft’s likely dismal showing this generation, does draw into question what the company might have planned for the quickly approaching shift to the next generation of consoles. Microsoft, unlike Nintendo and PlayStation, has strong ties to PC game sales and a long history of trying to both support that and capture it in it’s own walled-garden store built into Windows 10. It’s possible that Microsoft could see the shift between generations as a chance to move away from the expensive console wars and closer to systems that rely on streaming games to a television using a home’s existing computer hardware rather than a gaming-centric device.

POPULAR ON VARIETY.COM:

More Gaming

  • BTS World

    BTS World Mobile Game From K-Pop Group Rockets to No. 1 Spot on App Charts Worldwide

    BTS, the biggest K-pop group in the world, now has the biggest app in the world. “BTS World,” a mobile simulation game that lets fans virtually become the South Korean pop stars’ manager, quickly rose to the top of Apple’s App Store charts in multiple countries just hours after its release on Wednesday, June 26. [...]

  • Myst Computer Game

    'Myst' Film and TV Rights Sell to Village Roadshow

    “Myst,” the influential video game that helped usher in the CD-ROM era, may inspire an ambitious multi-platform film and television universe. Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, the co-producer and co-financier of the “Matrix” and “Sherlock Holmes” franchises, has acquired the rights to the first-person graphic adventure. For those born post-90s, “Myst” was wildly popular and hailed [...]

  • Joyride

    With Joyride, Everyone Can Host Their Own HQ Trivia

    When mobile game developer Kiwi first released Joyride, the app looked familiar: Similar to wildly popular HQ Trivia, Joyride offered players the ability to win quiz shows in live broadcasts. The key difference: Joyride’s app wasn’t home to just one trivia show, but multiple shows around topics like music, dating, fandom, and yes, trivia, all [...]

  • Etika-Desmond-Amofah

    Gaming YouTuber Desmond 'Etika' Amofah Found Dead, NYPD Says

    Desmond Amofah, a YouTube gaming vlogger known online as “Etika,” was found dead by New York police on Tuesday after he was reported missing last week. He was 29. Amofah posted YouTube videos and live-streams focused on Nintendo games and other titles. A body later confirmed to be Amofah’s was found in the East River on [...]

  • harry potter wizards unite

    'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite' Off to Slower Start Than 'Pokemon Go'

    Niantic’s new location-based augmented reality game “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is off to a solid start — but it doesn’t seem to have quite the same momentum as “Pokemon Go” did when it launched 3 years ago. That’s according to initial estimates from app analytics specialist Sensor Tower. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” first became available [...]

  • survios at the linq

    Not Just Gambling: Las Vegas Is Becoming a Virtual Reality Hub

    Walk into the Linq on the Las Vegas strip these days, and you might not immediately realize you just stepped into a casino. Instead, you’ll stumble across a series of living-room-like lounge setups, complete with leather couches, big-screen TVs, Xbox Ones and Oculus Go VR headsets. There’s also a bar with a massive wrap-around touch [...]

  • Netflix HQ LA

    Netflix Engineers Developed a Rumble Pack Feature During Latest Hack Day

    A duo of Netflix employees had a unique idea for making the service’s shows even more stirring: They added a rumble pack option to the Netflix app as part of the company’s latest hack day. When watching shows like “Voltron,” the feature makes phones vibrate in sync with the action on the screen, similar to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content