Microsoft cares most about software sales, services, and engagement. These metrics are the life's blood of Xbox...not console sales.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Phil Spencer re-confirms something we've known for some time: Hardware purchases are in the back seat of Microsoft's big picture. Right now Xbox is a service, not a console--a service that bridges consoles, PCs, and mobile phones with a galaxy of games, subscriptions, and cross-platform social features. Thanks to the Xbox One's bad rep in 2013, Microsoft has diversified far beyond consoles to become a service titan. It's done very well for them.d
Spencer re-affirms this position in the interview, and says Microsoft won't give actual Xbox console sales figures ever again. The spotlight is now focused on player count, engagement, and revenues from subscriptions and services like Game Pass instead of hardware sales.
"I know it seems manipulative and I'll apologize for that, but I don't want my team's focus on sales," Spencer said.
"The primary outcome of all the work that we do is how many players we see, and how often they play. That is what drives Xbox."
"If I start to highlight something else, both publicly and internally, it changes our focus. Things that lack backwards compatibility become less interesting. Putting our games on PC becomes a reason that somebody doesn't have to go and buy an Xbox Series X. I'll hold fast to this."
"We publicly disclose player numbers. That's the thing I want us to be driven by, not how many individual pieces of plastic did we sell."
Microsoft just announced the Xbox Series X/S were the biggest console launch in Xbox history.
Nestled in that PR post was mention of how 70% of all console buyers were also subscribed to Game Pass. This is what Microsoft cares about most. Consoles are just a portal, a gateway to digital sales and monetization, and that's another big reason why hardware sales won't be divulged again.
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