Is it time for Microsoft to give up on the Xbox One?
It's unspoken common knowledge that the Xbox One isn't doing as well as the PS4 but now, thanks to a slip during an EA investors call, we know just how bad that situation really is.
According to Variety, which crunched the numbers, Microsoft had sold around 30 million Xbox One consoles by the end of 2017. By comparison, Sony had sold more than 73 million PS4 systems in roughly the same period of time. If the numbers can be believed, this means that Microsoft has sold fewer than half the quantity of consoles in the same time period – and not even the Xbox One S and Xbox One X have managed to boost numbers significantly.
Microsoft doesn't give out sales figures and hasn't done since it was evident the PS4 was wiping the floor with it. However, thanks to EA CEO Andrew Wilson, we now have an estimation into just how many Xbox Ones have been sold as he explained both Xbox One and PS4 sold a combined 103 million units by end of 2017.
“Turning to our expectations for fiscal 2019, we expect sales of current-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony to continue to be strong,” he said, “with the installed base growing to 130 million consoles by the end of calendar 2018 from 103 million at the end of calendar 2017.”
Wilson may not have broken down the number into individual console sales, but because Sony does disclose just how many consoles it sells each quarter, we can work it out. At the start of 2018, Sony issued a statement declaring that more than 73.6 million PS4s had been sold as of 31 December 2017.
It doesn't take a maths genius to realise this leaves around 29.4 million Xbox One consoles – equating to Sony outselling Microsoft by two-and-a-half times as many consoles.
As Variety points out, you can also deduce how many of those Xbox One consoles were sold in 2016 and 2017 because – once again – EA accidentally revealed sales figures back in 2016. In January 2016, EA revealed around 18 million to 19 million Xbox One consoles had been sold, meaning that Microsoft only sold around 10 million to 11 million consoles over two years
If we believe that numbers aren't split evenly across 2016 and 2017, it looks like Microsoft may well have saved themselves with the release of the Xbox One S at the end of 2016. With the Xbox One X landing at the end of 2017, perhaps sales will pick up in 2018 and help close the gap between the companies. If that's the case, the extra 27 million consoles Wilson expects to be sold in 2018 could well be more Xbox-shaped.
Interestingly, Wilson also said he expects the Nintendo Switch to hit the 30 million mark by the end of 2018. If that's the case, and Microsoft doesn't manage to close the gap on the PS4, the Nintendo Switch could well overtake the Xbox One family within the space of just two years.
Does Xbox have a future?
So what does this mean for Microsoft's involvement in the console space in future? Well, the Xbox division of Microsoft isn't going anywhere. It's got a slew of upcoming releases for its Xbox One family of consoles and it appears to have begun hiring talent for an all-new IP. We also know that it has moved away from the idea of big console launches in favour of a more fluid update cycle and potentially a games streaming model reminiscent of its Xbox Games Pass service.
We've reached out to Microsoft for comment on sales numbers and Xbox's future, and we'll update you when we receive a response.