After the Atari Jaguar stopped its production in 1996, the video game industry was left without a western console. The console war was mainly between Sega, Nintendo, and PlayStation at that time (and quickly turned into a face-to-face between Nintendo and PlayStation). Microsoft, seeing an opportunity to enter a new market and seize an empty throne, then introduced the Xbox brand to the world in 2001. Fascinatingly enough, Microsoft opted for black as the official color, replacing the black Sega’s consoles had before disappearing.
Microsoft’s grand entrance was not just because the company was looking for a new business. It was also, and mainly, responding to a threat called the PlayStation 2. With his new console, Sony’s baby was positioning itself as the ultimate console since it would not only play games but also play DVDs and CDs. And that was Microsoft’s domain because PCs were supposed to be the main source of entertainment in the living room. You can say that they took it as a personal challenge. The team of engineers working on the future console decided that it should be representative of Microsoft and what they do best: the Xbox would use components found in PC and software programs like DirectX, which would make it easy for developers on PC to release games on their new device. With time, rather than just seeing the Xbox as “one of Microsoft’s products”, the company decided to give it some independence as a brand.
The Xbox was a success and quickly found its place on the market with the novelties it brought. Not only was it the first console with a built-in hard disk, but it also featured an integrated Ethernet Port, meaning that players could use the Internet. Coupled with the introduction of the Xbox Live service, the Xbox was the first to enforce a solid version of online gaming on video game consoles. Plus, throughout its different models and generations, Microsoft made sure that backward compatibility would always be featured. Nowadays, the Xbox console family is in its fourth generation with the Xbox Series X/S. Like with the Xbox One, we find under that umbrella the high-end model (Series X) and the lower-end model (Series S). Both consoles would quickly become the fastest-selling Xbox models for Microsoft and usher the brand into a new era. The following Xbox Series X/S statistics and facts prove that. If statistics and facts interest you then head over to our video games industry statistics piece to learn some awesome new facts!
Xbox Series X/S key stats
So, what are exactly the Series X and S? The ninth generation of consoles has proved to be full of powerful beasts. In the ever-growing video game industry, it is important and interesting to see how highly anticipated devices are doing individually but also compared to their rivals.
The Xbox Series S is the smallest Xbox ever.
- With its 8-core processor reaching 3.6 GHz, the Series is far from shoddy. But its GPU with 4 teraflops and 1.6 GHz shows its limitations compared to the Series X or the PS5.
- It has a built-in storage of 512GB that you can expand with the 1TB expansion card sold separately.
- The series S can display 1440p with 60fps, but if needed, can also reach 120fps. 1440p is its best resolution, though.
Microsoft’s decision to launch the Series S at the same time as its console sister comes as a huge surprise. Usually, the lite version is released a few years after the first version, but here buyers got both of them at the same time. However, it is a good move since it allows people with a smaller wallet to still enjoy great gaming. And that is where you have to pay attention: the Series S is cheaper because its performances are below those of the Series X. It will not be the same thing at all. For starters, if backwards compatibility is fantastic on the Series X, it is a bit trickier on the Series S: the machine does not read discs, meaning that your old games that are not available digitally cannot be played. We can also see that there is no USB-C port, which is a missed opportunity considering how its fast charging and data transfer features are in demand. The Series S is the perfect entry point for new gamers, casual ones who are not too strict or gamers with a tight budget.
The Xbox Series X is four times more powerful than Xbox One.
- But even with those dimensions, it is not as large as the PS5 (except in width).
- It has the same processor as the Series S, but with 12 teraflops and 1.8 GHz, it is way more powerful.
- The Series X has a built-in storage of 1TB that can be expanded with a 1TB expansion card.
- It is possible to play in 4K with a framerate of 60fps. But the machine can actually display 8K and reach 120fps.
The Xbox Series X can be described as the smallest gaming PC at this point. Do not misunderstand: real gaming PCs still outperform the console, but the engineering that went into the Series X is more than impressive. Drops in performance are rarely observed, meaning that demanding games do not lag when it gets more active on the screen. Rather, they lower their requirements a bit (for example, going from 4K to 1440p), but it is barely perceptible. The console features a lot of new or improved options, but the best one is surely Quick Resume, which allows you to jump from one game to another, and then resume the first game exactly where you stopped. The loading times are also drastically reduced, but with how powerful the Series X is, no wonder. It is recommended to keep it vertically to allow the cooling system to work at its best. With all that, the only real negative point would be the lack of a USB Type-C port: for a new-gen console, it is a must.
1.4 million units of the Xbox Series X/S were sold in 24 hours after its launch worldwide.
(Source: VG Chartz)
- The Series X was the most popular with 800,000-925,000 units sold, while the Series S sold approximately between 400,000-475,000 units.
- The United States alone accounted for at least half of the sales, with 670,000-780,000 units. When taking into account the Americas as a whole, the numbers go up to 740,000-870,000. In Europe, experts estimated that 340,000-400,000 units had been sold.
- The launch day in the United Kingdom, where the Xbox Series X/S sold 155,000 units, was the biggest in the country for Microsoft
- Compared to that, the last record was held by the Xbox One in 2013 when it sold 150,000 units in two days.
- The Series X was the most coveted model, as it accounted for two-thirds of the sales on launch day.
- The console was launched on November 10th, 2020 in 37 countries at the same time, compared to the Xbox One, which was launched in only 13 countries.
Despite the global chip shortage that has affected the video game console industry, the Xbox Series family managed to do quite well on launch day, setting new records for Microsoft. It was still difficult since there were not enough units in retailers, since pre-orders had to be given priority. And with time, and that shortage still being a thing, they can only resupply stores pretty slowly. It is near impossible to actually follow the demand. We can also see that the Series X is the most popular, which would indicate that a lot of “core” players decided to stick with Xbox and their best model. As said before, the Series S was made for tight budgets and new players. And that is exactly the buyers who went after this particular model. Xbox even labeled those as “key market”. Unsurprisingly, the United States is still the biggest market for the brand.
The Xbox Series X/S has now sold over 12 million units worldwide.
(Source: Pocket Lint)
- The console sold 6.52 million units in North America, 3.79 million units in Europe, 0.14 million units in Japan, and 1.90 million units in the rest of the world.
- Based on estimates, the Series X/S had sold around 3.5 million units in a month and a half (which means from November 2020 to the end of December 2020).
- By June 2021, estimates place the number of Series X/S sold at around 6.5 million consoles. In the same timeframe, experts claimed that the Xbox One had sold 5.7 million units and the Xbox 360 had sold 5 million units.
- Then, by October 2021, it was estimated that the console had sold 8 million units.
- In 2020, 310,000 Series X/S were sold in the United Kingdom, generating £118 million. By December 2021, over one million consoles have been sold on British soil.
- Over 2021, the Series X accounted for 43% of all the Xbox Series sold that year in the United Kingdom.
- In Japan, during launch week, 20,534 units were sold. Most of those sales were for the Series X model.
- By November 2021, the Xbox Series X/S had finally crossed the 116,000 units sold threshold, with the Series X still in higher demand.
- By the end of January 2022, 136,034 units of the Xbox Series X/S have been sold in Japan.
The Xbox Series X/S is still going strong, and even more so after a real full year of sales. Microsoft stopped sharing its numbers in 2014 explaining that the reason was that the number of consoles sold does not define them. Thankfully, expert analysts from different countries and magazines such as Famitsu still keep track of all that information. We can then see that the latest in the Xbox family has, indeed, encountered success. However, we can also notice that it has a lot of difficulty in Japan. Against Nintendo’s Switch and Sony’s PlayStation, the Xbox Series cannot really compete. Overall, it stays below both consoles, even in Europe or the United States. The only difference is that the gap is not as big in the United States.
Xbox (Microsoft Gaming Division) generated a revenue of $16.28 billion in 2021, which is an increase of 17.07% compared to 2020.
(Source: Pocket Lint)
- Earnings coming from hardware sales increased by 63%, amounting to $3.7 billion.
- A good chunk of the revenues was from content & services, with an increase of 8.8% and a total of $12.6 billion.
- In summary, content & services represented 77% of Xbox’s total revenue, while hardware sales represented 23%.
- Compared to 2021, 2020 saw a revenue of $14 billion and hardware sales generated less than $2 billion.
2021 was a good year for Xbox in general, but also for the Series X/S. In 2020, the console only had what was left of the last quarter to generate numbers. But 2021 was a full year of sales, and it demonstrated that there was indeed a demand. More particularly for the Xbox S that was a great Plan B for tight purses during these trying times. Of course, content & service is the major source of revenue, since it includes services like the Xbox Pass and the sales of games. On that note, first-party titles saw an increase while third-party titles saw a decrease. This is the result of all the studios Microsoft bought, placing a lot of IPs directly under their umbrella.
Xbox X/S user stats
The Xbox brand managed to find its public and, since the beginning, has been working to retain its regulars while also attracting new players. When talking about Xbox, we often think about people mostly into FPS (as the brand has quite a lot of them). But is there a profile for faithful Xbox players out there? And do they enjoy the services offered by Xbox?
The Xbox Network saw its highest number of subscribers in December 2020 with 100 million of them.
- The service was launched in November 2002 and by July 2004, it had finally reached the 1 million subscriptions milestone. One year later, 2 million players were using Xbox Live.
- In February 2010, it was announced that the service had now 23 million subscribers.
- From Q2 2016 to Q4 2019, the number of subscribers would oscillate between 48-65 million.
- In April 2020, it reached 90 million subscribers, a record that would be broken in December.
The Xbox Network (formerly known as Xbox Live) is a service delivered by Microsoft that allows players to play multiplayer games, among other features. The service is also described as “the Netflix of video games” thanks to its media sharing options. Signing up is free, but to fully enjoy all those options, one has to pay a monthly fee via the Xbox Live Gold. In doing so, users can not only go on multiplayer in non-multiplayer games, but they can also have access to four games for free per month, they can share and record their games, stream on Twitch, etc… It is a really advantageous service, even if it is apparent that Xbox started neglecting some aspects of it. Namely, the free games that have been the target of most users’ ire, as the formers are not appealing at all. From totally unknown titles with no production value whatsoever to games that have been panned in the past, subscribers feel robbed.
In 2021 over 25 million people subscribed to the Xbox Game Pass.
- The Game Pass gives you access to a catalog of well over 300 games.
- 70% of players on both Series X and S had an active Game Pass subscription on launch day.
- In October 2021, experts estimated that the number of Xbox Game Pass subscriptions was over 20 million.
- In April 2020, the service had 10 million subscribers. By September 2020, it was now up to 15 million subscribers. In January 2021, 18 million people were subscribed to the Xbox Game Pass.
The Xbox Game Pass is going to celebrate its 5th anniversary in 2022, but it is already obvious that Xbox counts on this new service the most. It is even directly linked with the whole “we do not care about the number of consoles sold”, as it was followed by “what counts are the number of players we have”. The Game Pass will give users access to hundreds of games from a range of publishers. The catalog changes regularly with games being added or removed. Of course, it is not free, but being able to play games for free for as long as they are in the catalog in exchange for a monthly fee is a pretty good deal. Subscribing to the Ultimate version even comes with a subscription for the Xbox Live Gold service. Microsoft is giving a lot of attention to the Game Pass, something that was really highlighted after their (future) acquisition of Activision Blizzard King: adding more and more valuable IPs to attract more people.
Xbox Series X/S vs Xbox Gen 1-3
As said before, the Xbox family is now in its fourth generation. We know that with each new generation come new improvements and functionalities and that they influence buyers. You also have loyal Xbox fans who stayed faithful to each generation throughout the years. But does being the latest model and the youngest of the family mean that you will always do better than the older models?
The Xbox 360 is still the highest-selling Xbox console with 85.8 million units.
(Source: VG Chartz)
- Released in 2013, 50.55 million units of the Xbox One were sold worldwide.
- Released in 2001, the first model of Xbox sold a total of 24.65 million units in its lifetime.
The first model of Xbox did not do as well as its descendants, as we can see with that big gap between the first and second-gen, but it did help to set the mood for later models. The brand’s reputation was then established and the 360 saw a wave of new players ready to give a chance to Microsoft’s console. It is worth noting that all those past models have been discontinued and that those numbers are permanent.
The best-selling video game on Xbox was Halo 2 with a total of 8.46 million copies sold.
- On Xbox 360, the best-selling video game was Grand Theft Auto V with 22.95 million, which at the time represented 25.5% of the total units sold in April 2018 across all platforms.
- Grand Theft Auto V also snatched the first spot with the Xbox One, selling 8.72 million units on the console.
There you have it. It is not a surprise to see that during its inception, Halo was the headliner for the Xbox. The title is still the flagship for the brand, even if fans keep complaining about the quality decreasing since Bungie left. They still buy it, though. Grand Theft Auto V is no surprise either since it literally got that first place on every console (minus Nintendo’s). The game was a phenomenon back then and considering how well the online multiplayer mode is doing, it still is. Rockstar announced that they are already working on the next GTA, so it might be that the fifth -main- episode of the saga is seeing its last days as the King.
On launch day in 2013, the Xbox One sold one million units worldwide.
- It took 3 weeks to the Xbox to reach 1 million units sold, reaching 1.5 million units by the end of 2001.
- Although we do not know how many consoles were sold on launch day for the Xbox 360, we do know that there were shortages everywhere. And that by the end of the year, a total of 1.5 million units had been shipped worldwide to fulfill the demand.
The family of consoles never failed a launch, and even took a gamble with the 360 when Microsoft decided to release it around Christmas. Not that they thought that it would not sell, but more like they underestimated how well it would sell. A common point found during those different eras is that they still reflect today’s reality: the United States is still where the brand sells the biggest chunk of their merchandise, while it struggles to even reach 500,000 units after a year on the Japanese market. For context: 3 weeks to reach 1 million units for the Xbox was, at the time, quite big. It meant healthy sales.
To sum up
Xbox is the youngest one in this console war that has been raging for decades now when it started back then with Nintendo and Atari. Then Sega joined the fray and even Philips tried a little something if you remember. And the brand did quite well for itself, using its knowledge and technology in PCs to create a series of consoles that were mini-gaming PCs.
The Xbox Series X/S has already made itself comfortable worldwide and in the gaming landscape. Harshly criticized for the lack of new-gen optimized titles during launch, it quickly changed the situation in 2021 when it got to showcase all its capabilities. But the real focus is on the Game Pass, the new service Microsoft is betting everything on. And the reason behind Microsoft buying studios after studios, instead of focusing on creating original IPs. It is clearly to secure more IPs, past, and future, from companies that have shown how talented they are or from giants like ABK with their legendary titles.
Now, the Xbox Series X/S actually sells pretty well but is still lagging behind Nintendo and Sony. This might be, as goes popular opinion, the main reason why Microsoft stopped sharing numbers with the public. However, with the chip shortage and the fact that we just started that new era of next-gen consoles, the Xbox Series family could surprise us in years to come.
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