Why it matters: You might think that all companies judge the success of their consoles by unit sales, but not Microsoft, apparently. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer recently admitted that the Redmond firm isn’t concerned about selling more machines than rivals Sony and Nintendo.
Speaking on an episode of Gary Whitta’s Animal Talking podcast, Spencer said, “If [selling more consoles than Sony and Nintendo] was our approach, we wouldn’t put our games on PC. We wouldn’t put our games on Xbox One; we wouldn’t do xCloud and allow people to play games on their phones.”
“‘How many consoles do I sell versus how many consoles does another company sell,’” he added. “Sony or Nintendo or other companies back in the day, that’s not our approach.”
Essentially, Spencer says that Microsoft values the experiences it offers players over pure unit sales. He notes that unlike the PlayStation 5, there are no Xbox Series X exclusives, which would have encouraged more consumers to opt for the machine. XSX titles will be available across its current-gen consoles, the PC, and its upcoming xCloud game streaming service that counts smartphones among its compatible platforms. Microsoft also makes plenty of money from its Game Pass subscription service, which will bundle xCloud in its Ultimate tier this September. Moreover, the company can expect more people to subscribe to Game Pass once the XSX launches.
Focusing on its services is a good strategy for Microsoft, given that Sony appears to have the edge in the upcoming console wars. The XSX and PS5 are still a few months away, but a recent ‘most likely to buy’ survey saw 84 percent of gamers pick Sony’s product over its rival. We’ve also heard that Sony is expecting to ship between 120 million to 170 million units—double those of the Xbox Series X. Should sales be closer to the latter estimate, the PS5 would be the best-selling console of all time. But one person who believes Microsoft has the better machine is Valve boss Gabe Newell.