Microsoft’s Xbox One has evolved considerably in the almost three years it’s been on the market, but it has only just this year started to pick up steam in terms of sales. While Microsoft doesn’t release Xbox One sales data, lifetime sales for the console sit somewhere between 10 and 20 million units worldwide, a little less than half of the PlayStation 4’s estimated figure of 43.5 million units. According to Microsoft’s Phil Spencer, the company had originally planned to sell 200 million Xbox Ones.
“The goal that the team had was to figure out how could we sell 200 million game consoles,” says Spencer. “We’ve never seen a console sell that many units. The biggest individual console, the PS2, did 120 million or something like that.”
Despite Microsoft’s ambitious (some might say delusional) sales goal, the Xbox One had a troubled launch, suffering from negative public perception over what were deemed to be anti-consumer policies, such as no support for used games and the forced adoption of the Kinect peripheral.
Spencer readily admits that his company was trying to do too much at once with the Xbox One and that the decision was made to refocus on being a games console first.
“When we came in after two-and-a-years ago and started running the Xbox program,” continued Spencer, who replaced Don Mattrick as the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division in March 2014, “I centered us back on not trying to become something other than a game console. 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.”
Interestingly, Spencer says that Xbox One users are watching TV as much as they’re gaming, but even still, he believes that the console must “succeed with gamers first before we get any permission to go do anything else.”
While it will almost certainly never come close to hitting that 200 million mark, Xbox One sales have enjoyed a 1000% increase in the UK after the launch of the Xbox One S model back in August, so there is evidence that Spencer’s games-first initiative is enjoying some measure of success.