For consoles today the constant battle in market share is often what most people look to when analyzing which company is doing the best. The current status is pretty clear with Sony’s Playstation 4 taking a decisive lead over the other consoles of this generation — the Xbox One and the WiiU.
But Microsoft is shying away from the physical console sales to determine whether they are successful or not. Instead, the company will look at Xbox Live memberships to decide if they’re continuing to make progress as a major player in the console gaming industry.
The decision to switch to online subscriptions probably won’t affect the general gaming consensus that the PS4 is winning the race, but it seems a tad suspicious that Microsoft is going ahead with the switch just as the overall revenue for Xbox fell at the same time the revenue from Xbox Live went up.
And the news that Xbox Live revenue is on the rise while Xbox console shipments is stagnating is not surprising — especially for a Q3 report in 2015. Xbox 360 consoles are declining as it nears its 10 year birthday and Xbox One sales stagnate for gamers electing to wait for the holiday season for buying a $400 console.
Regardless of the decision, Xbox Live should be the cash cow for Microsoft with digital gaming on the rise. It grew by 6% revenue-wise with a 28% increase in its userbase (now at 39 million). The quality of the platform is what makes the Xbox One at all stand out against the PS4’s superior hardware and measuring the active users gives a more realistic idea of who uses their consoles.
But still with Sony and Nintendo still using shipments as their major success metric it will seem a bit odd when Microsoft shows off users rather the consoles shipped every quarter. It’s unclear whether the company will continue the quarterly reporting of console sales — or how often they’ll report them.