Microsoft has decided to no longer reveal just how many Xbox One or Xbox 360 consoles it ships or sells to gamers. However, Xbox division head Phil Spencer claims that revealing the number of active monthly Xbox Live users is a better way to show the health of the Xbox division as a whole.
Chatting with GameSpot, Spencer denied that Microsoft no longer wants to reveal Xbox One shipment numbers because they don't want to compete with the numbers of Sony's PlayStation 4 console. In fact, he says it's actually a risker move for Microsoft to reveal monthly Xbox Live user numbers, because they can go up and down, while cumulative hardware shipments can only go up.
"If I sold a console two years ago and now it's in a closet collecting dust, that's not good for the gamer, that's not good for the developers, and frankly, it's not good for Microsoft," Spencer said. "The nice thing about us selling consoles is your console install base will always go up. But that's not really a reflection of how healthy your ecosystem is. We focus on the monthly active user base because we know those are gamers making a conscious choice to pick our content, our games, our platform, our service. We want to gauge our success on how happy and engaged those customers are. We need to keep them happy."
During the fourth quarter of 2015, Microsoft said there were 48 million active Xbox Live users, up from 39 million in the previous quarter. That includes users who access the service on the PC in addition to Xbox One and Xbox 360 owners.