Phil Spencer confirms Xbox Series X, Series S are the fastest-selling Xbox consoles so far

Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S
Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S (Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S represent the latest generation of Xbox consoles with all-new hardware and capabilities.
  • The consoles' release has been mired by global supply constraints and chip shortages, as well as strong offerings from competitors.
  • Despite these challenges, Xbox head Phil Spencer has confirmed in an interview that Xbox Series X|S is the fastest-selling Xbox generation so far.
  • At this point in their release cycle, the Xbox Series X and S duo have sold more than any previous generation of Xbox consoles.

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are undeniably refined gaming machines, with capable hardware partnered with a wide selection of the best Xbox games you can play. Players interested in what the consoles have to offer have so far struggled to obtain the elusive consoles, however, due to ongoing global chip shortages and supply constraints, problems that afflict most of the industry. Despite these challenges, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has confirmed in an interview with the New York Times, on Monday, that Xbox Series X|S is the fastest-selling Xbox generation yet.

During the interview, Spencer stated, "At this point, we've sold more of this generation of Xboxes, which is Xbox Series X and S, than we had any previous version of Xboxes." It's still difficult to find Xbox Series X or Series S reliably in stock practically anywhere in the world, as supply continues to fail to meet overwhelming demand for the new consoles (and offerings from both Sony and Nintendo with the PS5 and Switch). Still, the console duo has, at this point in their release cycle, sold more than any previous generation of Xbox consoles at the same point in their respective lifetime.

We unfortunately don't know the exact number of Xbox Series X|S consoles that have been sold since their release in Nov. 2020, as Xbox no longer shares those sales numbers in its financial reports, but the milestone is nonetheless impressive as Xbox Series X|S have outsold the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox console families at the same point in their generation.

It's an undeniable accomplishment, especially as demand will likely continue to increase as Xbox continues to evolve throughout 2022 and beyond. 2021 saw the release of several critically acclaimed titles from Xbox Game Studios like Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite. 2022 is similarly packed with highly-anticipated entries from the gaming behemoth, such as Starfield and more. Supply constraints, video game delays, and other challenges will probably continue into 2022, but Xbox is continually seeking new ways to get its powerful Xbox Series X and S consoles into the hands of players.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.

  • First year sales for the XBOX 360 were 10-12M despite supply constraints for the first six months.
    So X|S sales can be taken to be 10m minimum.
    Less than Sony reports (~14M?) but not bad.
    The SS is doing its job.
  • I'm not sure where you get this figure but the figures of the 360 was about 12 to 14 million. And according to analyst the series x and series s are about 12 million to 12 and a half
  • Same place as the analysts: historical accounts online.
    And the numbers you find depend on the date you choose.
    We're in January so I used the full first year numbers which ran as low as 10M (they ran out early, remember? availability was tight) not the spring numbers that ran 14-16m.
    And Spencer said X|S beat 360 so since the new gen is estimated at 12m as you say it they are using the ezrlier sales number. Look around on twitter and other XBOX sites today and you'll find the same 12M top estimate for both consoles. It's just guesstimates, okay? BTW, the more interesting news you'll find is Sony reporting 13M last Oct and projecting 15M by march.
    That is a low six month estimate.
    (Explanations come to mind but aren't relevant to this thread.)
  • Here's Forbes' take:
    Their numbers put XB1 at 12M.
    Accept them or not as you will.
  • Is the Series S still component restrained? I remember seeing bunches of them at my local US Costco just before Christmas. I'm not trying to deny anything, I'm just curious.
  • The global chip shortage affects practically everything, but it is easier to build the Series S versus the more expensive Series X. Especially during the holidays, it seems the Series S did very well for itself because it was more readily available to purchase. Our report from Black Friday: Xbox Series S dominated PS5 and Xbox Series X at retail during Black Friday
  • Yeah, looks like making a low cost version ended up being the ace in the hole not just because there's a niche there, but also because the S may be less supply constrained than the X (and PS5) during these pandemic bottlenecks. That's more of a happy accident. But I don't think that takes away from the accomplishments of the Xbox team. Of course it's possible that without the bottlenecks the PS5 would just left everyone in the dust. That could have even affected absolute Xbox sales too, assuming a bunch of people bought Xboxes because they were available and the PS5 wasn't.
  • The biggest constraints on the current gen consoles is the SOC wafers. The SS SOC is about half the size of the SX SOC so each wafer devoted to SS yields at least double the chips than a wafer devoted to SX.
    A second big driver is the SSD chips. Again, SS uses half the chips.
    A third driver is yield and there the SS advantage is smaller because the clock rates only marginally lower.
    Fourth, the SS doesn't need an optical drive which isn't a big driver but still a couple bucks per unit adds up.
    Finally, the SS power supply is smaller and slightly cheaper.
    The result for MS is the SS is half as expensive to build as SX but sells for 60% as much. So, bigger margin. Plus, strategically speaking, each console sold is one more ecosystem buy-in. So it serves MS's long term intefrests to sell as many SS consoles as early as possible in the generation to msximize software income. A final point: the SS market is going to be more seasonal than the SX with sales packing in the holiday quarter so MS probably prioritized SX SOC production early in 2021 (a good portion went to tbe xcloud servers) and maximized SS production in the summer to fill the pipeline. By now the opposite should be true so SX should be relatively a bit more available until summer, another period of high SS sales. So far the dual console strategy is playing out as planned despite the supply chain issues.
    Bodes well for 2022. As to the PS5, a point to consider is their SOC is smaller than SX and their SSD significantly smaller but their clock rates substantially higher. Yields have been reported to be very low so they don't benefit as much from the size. And the only difference between their two models is the optical drive. Plus their cooling system is more complex and the physical design way more complex (look at their teardown video) with cables and different screws all over. Absent supply chain issues MS would have probably priced the SS even lower. (Pre launch there were reports the SS is designed to sell at $200. $250 would have been killer. At this point, the 100M PS4 gamers aren't going to switch out of availability any more than the 50M XB1 gamers. Too much money tied to old games. The only group getting XBOX out of availability are the dual console crowd (niche, really) and newcomers to market and for those folks BC and Gamepass will always loom big. Finally, there is All-ACCESS. Given unconstrained supplies those deals would be all over. This generation was never going to be a cakewalk for Sony. And MS hasn't really deployed all their options. A cheaper SS and a 1TB SS is a given as is a 2TB SX and cheaper storage cards. Its a dogfight all the way now.
  • Lots of great points, thank you. About the crossover buyers, I was precisely thinking of those seasonal buyers who may be buying for a Christmas gift. Imagine waiting a long time for the PS5, then giving up in October or November and just getting the next best thing that is available. I have no data on this but if this submarket is big enough that could have driven many XSS sales. (Keeping the S's price high may be evidence of this.) In that case All Access plus a cheap device with no optical drive starts to sound like genius in several ways.
  • It might be a better move than we know.
    Availability alone can't explain SS sales. The console had to deliver and it does.
    There is a tendency to forget that 75% of the TVs in living rooms are 1080p, which makes the SS a better match to those gamers, not just cheaper. Also, it is worth remembering that a lot of people's kneejerk reaction to SS was that it couldn't possibly be a *real* next gen console; it took until FlightSim, MassEffect, and Horizon for people to actually understand it really is. Just in time for the holidays. 2022 is going to be the real test. If SX availability stabilizes and SS sales remain strong MS will have validated their approach. So far the Magic 8 ball says "Signs point to yes." 😆
  • In Australia the only way to get either console is through All Access through Telstra. As an aside, I'd be incredibly worried if this wasn't the case. Gaming grows with every year that passes. The only thing that would prevent a new generation outselling the old would be supply constraints, otherwise they've done something wrong.
  • Both at once are possible. 😈
    More seriously: wafer yields depend on wafer supply but also on the mask layout and system design.
    Similar issues with the memory and storage chips. It isn't just a matter of foundry deliveries.
    It is theoretically possible to have a lower system yield than component yields. (Think of a RROD type failure that pops up randomly in the factory during flashing or testing. Entire lots failing QC.) One thing to keep an eye out for, this year, is that MS went aggressive with ANACONDA but conserbative on frequencies and the SSD. Most likely for cost reduction but conceivably to ensure higher yields. System availability isn't solely constrained by component supply.
  • The other factor I just thought of is that if you wanted to buy an Xbox system, they were the only ones being manufactured for the past year or more so it's not like the One could cut into sales all that much other other than what was already produced and being run out.