The Xbox One console we have today is a completely different version from what was intended to ship in 2013. Don Mattrick, the creator of the Kinect, had set the bar ridiculously high for Xbox One console sales aiming for 200 million units. He also declared that Xbox One games wouldn’t be accessible without a stable internet connection, infamously declaring that those who didn’t have it should consider sticking with the Xbox 360 instead.
The actual total sales of Xbox One consoles are around 20 million since 2013 and Phil Spencer, who took over after Don Mattrick, stated in an interview with Stevivior:
“The goal that the team had was to figure out how could we sell 200 million game consoles,” Spencer explained. “We’ve never seen a console sell that many units. The biggest individual console, the PS2, did 120 million or something like that.”
Though the steep sale target might seem laughable now but back in 2014, it was quite reasonable. With the back to back releases of PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox in the market, Sony’s console hit an impressive target of 150 million sales while the Xbox One sold 24 million units. After the next generation of consoles hit the market, the competition was way closer and both consoles achieved around 80 million unit sales each, a tremendous boost for Microsoft and a surprising downfall for Sony.
Spencer further revealed that in the planning stages of the console, Microsoft was significantly focused on transforming the system into an all-around entertainment box as well as a gaming machine. Services like Netflix and Hulu were struggling to make their place in the market and Microsoft wanted to include these newly found television services as a part of their strategy. The system’s usage as a video player is as frequent as its usage as a gaming console, but it ultimately became the reason of the lukewarm reception from gamers. Spencer added:
“We have to succeed with gamers first before we get any permission to go do anything else,”
“The approach the team took was people are moving to OTT Video Services [over-the-top, like Netflix and Stan] and television’s getting disrupted–and if we could build a console that could be at the center of this transition and really embrace not only people playing video games, but also people with the changing habits in television, you really take the console market and the gaming market and you expand it potentially,” he noted.
Xbox One hasn’t really recovered from the damage, which persuaded Microsoft to re-analyse its strategy.
“When we came in after two-and-a-half years ago and started running the Xbox program, I centered us back on not trying to become something other than a game console,” Spencer explained. “You don’t earn the right to be relevant in other categories of usage for the console until you’ve earned the gaming right, so let’s go make sure that’s what we deliver.”
The upcoming release from Microsoft is the Xbox One S, a 4K HDR-capable Blu-Ray player, which is something the rival PlayStation 4 lacks. It shows that Microsoft still has hopes for Xbox prospering as a media console.
But on the bright side, the disrupted sales figures of the Xbox One (mainly caused by the thrashing from Sony’s Playstation 4) has motivated Microsoft to come up with brighter, more innovative ideas to obscure their figures that includes initiatives like Xbox One Play Anywhere that allows gamers to own Microsoft games by purchasing either a PC or Xbox One.
Two years after the launch of Xbox One console, it’s been quite some time since Microsoft stopped sharing sales figures for Xbox One, now including a new element to its financial reports which shifts the spotlight towards its gaming revenue, taken from 400 million device Windows 10 ecosystem and not the 20 million Xbox One consoles only.
Looking at the bigger picture, Xbox One will barely hit 50 million sales let alone 200 million units. However, Microsoft is still motivated and we are looking forward to Xbox Scorpio’s release next year which will feature full 4K gaming.