Official Xbox One sales have been largely a mystery, but now Microsoft is finally admitting the obvious: The PS4 has outperformed the Xbox One by far.
Microsoft stopped reporting Xbox One sales at the beginning of fiscal 2016 and focused on Xbox Live songs instead. The change meant we never officially knew how well Xbox One held up compared to the PS4 after the Xbox One’s tough launch. According to analyst estimates, Microsoft is consistently ranked third behind Sony and Nintendo, and now documents (Word document) filed with Brazil’s National Competition Authority (spotted by Game Luster) are finally shedding some light on how the Xbox One generation went.
“Sony has surpassed Microsoft in terms of console sales and installed base, with more than twice as many Xbox in the last generation,” admits Microsoft, translated from Portuguese.
Sony is no longer reporting PS4 shipments, meaning lifetime sales will be 117.2 million as of March. While Microsoft hasn’t provided a concrete sales figure for Xbox One, the admission means the company must have sold less than about 58.5 million units. That’s in line with Ampere Analysis’s 2020 market research, which put Xbox One’s install base at 51 million units at the end of Q2 2020. Nintendo Switch is currently sitting at 111.08 million lifetime sales and it looks like the PS4 will be released later this year.
However, Microsoft seems to be closing this giant gap with its Xbox Series S/X consoles. Ampere analysis says, “Sony ended 2021 with cumulative PS5 sales reaching 17 million units, about 1.6 times the performance of Xbox series sales.” While Microsoft recently recoded a quarterly decline in hardware revenues for Xbox, CEO Satya Nadella said Microsoft “is the market leader in North America for three-quarters in a row among next-gen consoles.” Microsoft still hasn’t released official Xbox sales figures.
The Xbox One may not have sold well, but Microsoft’s work on the Xbox One generation laid an important foundation for the Xbox Series S/X. Microsoft switched to the Xbox Series X with 1440p support, variable refresh rate (VRR) and lots of 120Hz games all at launch thanks to testing these features on previous Xbox One consoles.
Microsoft’s admission of weak Xbox One sales comes as part of a wider debate between Sony and Microsoft over the Xbox maker’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Sony and Microsoft are both arguing about Duty, game subscriptions and more as Microsoft tries to clear the acquisition in Brazil. Microsoft has also claimed in documents filed with the Brazilian regulator that Sony is paying for “blocking rights” to prevent developers from adding their content to Xbox Game Pass.