“I know it seems manipulative and I’ll apologise for that, but I don’t want my team’s focus on [console sales],” Spencer said. “The primary outcome of all the work that we do is how many players we see, and how often they play. That is what drives Xbox.
“If I start to highlight something else, both publicly and internally, it changes our focus. Things that lack backwards compatibility become less interesting. Putting our games on PC becomes a reason that somebody doesn’t have to go and buy an Xbox Series X.
“I’ll hold fast to this. We publicly disclose player numbers. That’s the thing I want us to be driven by, not how many individual pieces of plastic did we sell.”
Earlier this year Spencer said Microsoft now views Amazon and Google as its primary competitors in the games business, rather than its traditional rivals Nintendo and PlayStation, which he said aren’t set up to compete in the race to take gaming truly mainstream via the cloud.
“I think the people who want to pit us against Sony based on who sold the most consoles lose the context of what gaming is about today,” he told The Guardian. “There are three billion people who play games on the planet today, but maybe [only] 200 million households that have a video game console. In a way, the console space is becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of the overall gaming pie.”
Microsoft launched Xbox Series X/S on November 10 while PlayStation 5 debuts on November 12. In terms of which new console ships more units this holiday season, Spencer believes the victor will be determined by production capacity as demand for the machines is far outstripping supply.