Microsoft Says Xbox One Sales Irrelevant; Number of Monthly Active Users Is

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, at the Xbox E3 2014 Media Briefing at the Galen Center on Monday, June 9, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images)

The Xbox One hasn’t been able to surpass Sony’s PlayStation 4 sales numbers, according to numerous estimates. Furthermore, Microsoft’s gaming console has been faring poorly in select regions such as Japan. But the company isn’t really bothered about it. Xbox chief Phil Spencer says that sales numbers aren’t the metric for success.

In his keynote at this year’s Xbox Spring Showcase, Spencer said that monthly active users (MAU) is a far better indicator for a console’s success than the number of inventories that have been sold. “The number of people in the last 30 days that have engaged with an Xbox Live game on either Windows or Xbox 360 or Xbox One is the critical factor for our team to gauge our success, because that’s what our partners want,” he said. “Our partners and gamers, they want the largest collection of active gamers who are buying and playing games.”

“It’s not how many consoles I sell. If I sold a console two years ago and now it’s in the closet collecting dust, that’s not good for the gamers.”

“[MAU] is the health metric of any service that you want to talk about”
He argued that using MAU as a key metric for success was actually a risk for Microsoft, because unlike the total number of consoles sold the MAU figure has the potential to go down if players become bored. If we have some Live issues like we had in the last week, that’s not great for our MAU count. That directly hits us,” he explained.”

Microsoft announced in January that Xbox Live has 48 million monthly active users, an increase of 9 million from the previous quarter. “If we go a long stretch without having great games on our platform, that will hit MAU. That will negatively impact MAU. It’s great that we’re seeing our strongest MAU growth ever… We’re incredibly proud of that, but we know we have a lot more work to do. We pick this metric not to hide something. In fact, I think that we’re more exposed by picking a number that actually shows how many people are really using our platform, using our service, every month and reporting that publicly.”