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Opinion: Is Xbox Throwing In The Towel On The Infamous Console War?

Opinion: Is Xbox Throwing In The Towel On The Infamous Console War?

Rumors made headlines last week that suggested Xbox may be throwing in the towel in the console war. Knowing that there is no smoke without fire, it is understandable that many die-hard Xbox fans are disappointed—and even angry. Firstly, let’s look at the statistics.

Opinion: Is Xbox Throwing In The Towel On The Infamous Console War?

The recent Take-Two earning report shows that 77 million Gen 9 consoles have been sold. Microsoft doesn’t make public the number of its console sales. Fortunately, Sony does. On December 20, 2023, Sony revealed that it had sold 50 million units of PS5. When you subtract that from 77 million units, you are left with 27 million units.

That means Sony’s PS5 outsold the Xbox Series X|S combined by almost 2:1. Perhaps you are thinking that this doesn’t suggest anything and could be a one-time fluke. But is it? To verify if the current sales figures are just a fluke, let us step back and compare the sales figures of the last gen consoles.

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When Sony stopped reporting PS4 shipments, its lifetime sales was 117.2 million. While Microsoft stopped reporting Xbox One sales in early 2016, Ampere Analysis in 2020 reported that the Xbox One install base was 51 million. (Figures are a bit conflicting depending on your source). Again, Xbox lost out by more than 2:1 to Sony’s PlayStation.

It is a no-brainer that the higher the number of consoles you sell, the higher the chances that you will sell more games. From a developer perspective, it doesn’t make sense to keep developing for a platform that has a lower number of players while ignoring a platform where they are almost guaranteed of higher number of players.

However, here is where it gets even dicey. Choosing to make games developed by internal studios available on rival consoles removes any incentive that may compel gamers to purchase your platform. But, porting platform-exclusive games to rival consoles can also help Microsoft and Xbox boost revenue from their in-studio games. As it stands, Microsoft is at a crossroads on the future of Xbox—and so are dedicated fans.

Xbox fight between fame and fortune

Opinion: Is Xbox Throwing In The Towel On The Infamous Console War?

There were claims that Microsoft plans to stop making Xbox. However, the rumors were allegedly addressed by executives in an internal town hall meeting held last week. According to Shannon Liao, the head of gaming at Inverse, “Phil Spencer did not confirm the rumors that Starfield is coming to PS5”.

It was earlier claimed—and in some instances citing findings from data miners—that a flurry of Xbox exclusives including Starfield, Hi-Fi Rush, and Indiana Jones may be coming to PS5 as part of a strategic shift in the business model of Microsoft’s gaming division.

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“We’re listening and we hear you,” Xbox boss Phil Spencer tweeted on February 5. “We’ve been planning a business update event for next week, where we look forward to sharing more details with you about our vision for the future of Xbox. Stay tuned.”

Although no specific date was given, that business update will happen this week. My wild guess is that Xbox may stop making consoles entirely and focus on the remote play model, just like they have been pushing the Game Pass model for the last few years.

Whatever decision Xbox executives plan to reveal this week, I reckon it is going to be a tough choice between ego and revenue. As far as most businesses are concerned, an increase in revenue always wins over ego—but I don’t expect players to easily digest this. Nevertheless, I think most developers would want more players for their games.

The rumor that Xbox exclusives may come to PS5 was the last straw for dedicated fans

Opinion: Is Xbox Throwing In The Towel On The Infamous Console War?
Phil Spencer

The rumors have sent a shockwave through the Xbox Community. Many have openly expressed their disgust, including several Xbox influencers with mammoth followers. Others have publicly withdrawn their support for the Microsoft gaming console.

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You can’t blame fans for being angry at the decision. For a game that was marketed as an Xbox exclusive to become available on a rival platform is more like a betrayal. It robs them of the bragging right they had against PlayStation gamers. Popular influencer Klobrille took to ResetEra to announce possible retirement if the rumors turn out to be true.

“The baseline for being Klobrille always was the trust & credibility of the brand I support and my excitement for the path ahead. All of these three are at an all-time low right now. I’ve made the decision, depending on what’s next or its scale, to take significant steps back and reduce the Klobrille persona, or eventually even retire it. It’s a process that started last year already for me, I lack the excitement and energy for what’s next, plus I’m shifting my focus to other, non-public things. You’ll see when the time has come, but until then, this will likely be my last message here.”

Another popular Xbox influencer, Timdog, was the center of attention after creating a Spaces audio discussion on X titled “I’m not an Xbox fanboy anymore”. The discussion session lasted a whopping 7 hours.

Without rushing to conclusions like some of the influencers have done (maybe they have more insider information than I currently do), it’s clear that Microsoft’s gaming division is not fairing well. Consequently, it is natural for the company to explore ways to secure its financial future. That may mean making decisions that are not popular with fans.