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Microsoft still won’t say how many Xbox Ones have been sold

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Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Microsoft is providing a vague update on its Xbox One sales today, after remaining largely silent for years on exactly how many consoles have been sold. “Xbox One sales are up 15 percent over the same period last year,” says Microsoft’s game marketing chief, Mike Nichols, in a blog post about “recording-setting” Xbox numbers. The blog post still doesn’t include any actual sales numbers, so it’s hard to tell exactly how well the Xbox One is doing. Either way, it’s encouraging for Microsoft that its Xbox One sales are growing this year after the launch of the Xbox One X.

Microsoft happily provided sales figures when the console first launched back in 2013, but the company soon stopped reporting numbers after it passed the 10 million milestone three months after Sony’s PS4. Instead, Microsoft has been largely focused on providing numbers on active Xbox Live users, instead of hardware sales. Even today’s blog post includes “Xbox Live players are up 13 percent,” and that 600,000 friendships have been forged through the new Looking For Group feature. There are also more than 1.2 million clubs on Xbox Live now.

The reason we’re not hearing about Microsoft’s actual sales numbers is because there’s a sizable difference between PS4 and Xbox One sales. EA let slip that Microsoft had sold around 19 million Xbox Ones in January 2016, at a time when Sony was boasting of 35.9 million PS4 sales. Sony has provided regular sales updates, and the company recently revealed it has now sold more than 76 million PS4 consoles. In the previous Xbox 360 vs. PS3 generation, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console managed to secure 32 months as the best-selling games console in the US, before the PS3 briefly broke the record ahead of the PS4 and Xbox One launches.

In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft says it no longer reports total console sales. “We are continuing to look at engagement as our key metric for success and are no longer reporting on total console sales,” says a Microsoft spokesperson. “We continue to see strong growth with time spent on Xbox Live, and look forward to bringing more unprecedented experiences on Xbox One, Windows 10 PC and mobile.”

Microsoft stopped selling the original Xbox One last August, ahead of the Xbox One X launch in November. While Xbox One sales likely struggled initially because of a $100 price premium over the PS4 and mismanaged Kinect launch, Microsoft now faces further challenges against Sony’s PS4. Game exclusives still matter in the console world, and Sony has been able secure some great exclusives last year and for 2018. Microsoft is now preparing for E3 next month, and we’re hoping to hear more about the company’s plans for first-party exclusive games, alongside a potential update to the Xbox One Elite controller and Microsoft’s new Xbox Live Avatars.

Update, May 3rd 12:15PM ET: Article updated to include comment from a Microsoft spokesperson.