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Xbox Explains Why It Doesn't Reveal Console Sales Anymore

"At first it was like, 'What are you doing?' 'You're the Xbox business and you're not giving us console [sales numbers], that makes no sense.'"


In 2015, Microsoft stopped announcing Xbox sales numbers, and now the company has shed more light on that decision. Xbox CFO Tim Stuart said at the Wells Fargo 2023 TMT Summit this week that Microsoft doesn't publicly discloses these figures because, as Microsoft sees it, a unit-sales number alone doesn't provide the clearest picture of how the Xbox brand is performing overall.

For what it's worth, both Sony and Nintendo announce new hardware sales numbers every quarter. Xbox is understood to be in last place when it comes to console sales compared to PlayStation and Switch, and that might be another reason for Microsoft's lack of console sales disclosure.

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Stuart said at the summit, "At first it was like, 'What are you doing?' 'You're the Xbox business and you're not giving us console [sales numbers], that makes no sense.' But it was really the first point of us saying, no, no, it's about content and services."

Stuart said he measures the success of Xbox by the number of customers it has and how much money Xbox makes as a brand, and Xbox is not only a console brand these days.

Before this, Phil Spencer said console sales numbers are "not really a reflection of how healthy your ecosystem is."

Stuart said his job is to help Xbox reach more people and to get Xbox users to spend more money. One way Microsoft is doing that is by giving players a diversity of purchasing options, including buying games outright, subscribing to Game Pass, or watching ads for mobile titles.

The executive said regions like Africa, India, and Southeast Asia are not "console-first" markets, so Microsoft is trying to push streaming and mobile games in those places. The mobile game business is, after all, the largest and most commercially successful part of the gaming business overall.

Stuart estimated that the market for consoles are in the area of a "couple hundred million," while the PC market is around 400 million. For mobile, though, the potential audience is in the billions, he said.

This is part of the reason why Microsoft wanted to buy Activision Blizzard, so it could get a hold of the company's mobile game franchises like Candy Crush, Call of Duty Mobile, Diablo Immortal, and Warcraft Rumble, among others. Stuart stressed that the mobile market is a tough business to break into, and now that it owns Activision Blizzard, it is immediately a top player in the market.

Looking further out, Stuart teased that Microsoft wants to leverage Activision Blizzard's experience in mobile to craft mobile experiences based on Microsoft's own IP. However, he didn't announce Halo Mobile or anything like that; it's still early days for Microsoft mobile games.

Also during the speaking event, Stuart revealed that Microsoft wants to bring Game Pass to PlayStation and Nintendo devices. He also discussed why he believes AI will be great for gaming.

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