Microsoft will happily tell you how many people are subscribed to Xbox Game Pass now (over 15 million) but hasn't been in the business of reporting hardware sales figures for quite a while now. At the very least, we do know that Tuesday's launch of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S broke one record set by the Xbox One launch in 2013—according to Phil Spencer, Xbox just had the biggest hardware launch in its history.
"Thank you for supporting the largest launch in Xbox history," writes Spencer on Twitter. "In 24 [hours] more new consoles sold, in more countries, than ever before. We're working with retail to resupply as quickly as possible. You continue to show us the connective power of play is more important than ever."
Since we know that the Xbox One sold more than 1 million units at launch in 2013, the combined launch sales number for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S has to be somewhere north of that. Beyond that, we're not going to get harder numbers.
Just shy of two years into the lifespan of the Xbox One, Microsoft stopped reporting sales numbers for its console and hasn't picked up the practice since. Just yesterday, in an interview with The Guardian, Spencer stood by the practice and said he won't announce sales figures for the Xbox One or for the company's new consoles, even if they start to outsell Sony's PlayStation 5.
"I can promise you that I won't do that," Spencer says. Pointing to the entrances Google, Amazon, and Facebook have made into the game streaming space over the past year, Spencer is still committed to shifting the focus toward services and away from hardware sales: "[Google] is never gonna talk about how many Chromecast Pros they sold. They're gonna talk about how many players they have."
Meanwhile, Sony's been happy to report sales figures throughout the lifespan of the PS4. About a year ago, the PS4 crossed over 100 million units sold and became the second-best selling console of all time behind the PS2. Sony now hopes that the PS5 will beat the first-year sales of the PS4.
Microsoft's reluctance to report hardware numbers may have been initially influenced by lagging sales of the Xbox One, but it also reflects the fundamentally different approach to business it's been building up with Game Pass and xCloud streaming tech. "There are 3 billion people who play games on the planet today, but maybe [only] 200 million households that have a video game console," Spencer tells The Guardian. "In a way, the console space is becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of the overall gaming pie."
Without a major new title like Halo Infinite to their name at launch, Game Pass stands as the main software appeal for the new Xbox consoles at the moment. By the time we get our next update on Game Pass subscriber counts we'll probably know how many PS5s were sold at launch, but we can expect we won't be seeing Microsoft and Sony going head-to-head on hardware figures again any time soon.