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PS4 and Xbox One Sales Defy "Death of Consoles" Rhetoric, Says Xbox Boss

Phil Spencer: "Four years ago when I was sitting doing these interviews, the question was 'do people need consoles?'"


The surge in popularity of both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 shows the console business is still viable, according to the man in charge of Microsoft's games division.

Phil Spencer was promoted to head of Xbox in March 2014
Phil Spencer was promoted to head of Xbox in March 2014

In an interview with Edge, Xbox head Phil Spencer spoke of previous years when he faced questions from journalists regarding the supposed poor health of the dedicated console business. Such questions were put to him as respected executives in games, such as former Square Enix boss Yoichi Wada, claimed consoles were heading for extinction.

"I have a lot of respect for the team at Sony and the success they’ve had with PS4, and it’s a great time for the console industry," Spencer said.

"I’ve said this a few times, but four years ago when I was sitting doing these interviews it was, 'do people need consoles any more?' and, 'isn’t this just dead? Everybody’s playing on their phone.' And now you’re looking at the PS4 having sold over--I don’t remember their last number-- but over 20 million.

"And we’ve sold a ton of Xbox Ones globally, more than we’ve sold 360s [in the same period]. We’re both doing really well, and I think Nintendo has a plan for the future--I don’t know what the NX is, but it’s great just to see the business being done."

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When it comes to the overall viability of the console games business, hardware sales are one part of a far bigger equation.

Questions remain over whether games consoles are profitable for Microsoft and Sony (the original Xbox, for example, lost Microsoft billions overall). Meanwhile, developers and publishers face a steeper challenge than ever to yield profit on triple-A games.

Elsewhere in the interview, Spencer accepts that Microsoft needs to strengthen Xbox One's market position across Europe. According to Sony's most recent estimates, the PS4 enjoys a 70-90 percent market share across the continent.

"We need to do better in Europe. When I look globally, mainland Europe is definitely an area we want to focus on. I’m excited about going to Gamescom at the beginning of August, having another press show where we’re able to show games that we didn’t show here."

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