Back when the Xbox One was still in the planning stages, Microsoft had hopes of the Xbox One selling 200 million systems.
It sounds laughable now, but back then it was more reasonable. The original Xbox jumped into the market against PlayStation 2 and managed to sell 24 million units against 150 million from Sony’s console. Then the next generation of consoles hit and the two were neck and neck, selling around 80 million each. A meteoric rise for Microsoft and a sharp fall for Sony. If Microsoft hadn’t completely misjudged the market, we could be looking at a very different console landscape right now.
“The goal that the team had was to figure out how we could sell 200 million game consoles,” said Phil Spencer in an interview with Stevivor. “We’ve never seen a console sell that many units. The biggest individual console, the PS2, did something 120 million or something like that.”
While Microsoft was planning the system, services like Netflix and Hulu were still digging out a place in the market. Microsoft wanted to make this new area in television a central part of their strategy. While the system’s usage as a video player is about as high as its use as a game console, Spencer says the team has learned since the days of the Xbox One unveiling.
“We have to succeed with gamers first before we get any permission to go do anything else,” he said.
How many Xbox One consoles are actually out there? Microsoft isn’t reporting that number anymore, following the years of thrashings by Sony’s PlayStation 4, and they’re doing everything they can to obscure that number by making everything, Xbox One included, a Windows 10 device and by launching initiatives like the Xbox One Play Anywhere initiative, which lets gamers own Microsoft-published games on both Xbox One and PC with one purchase.