2013 may well be the Xbox 360’s final year, and the end of a remarkable run for Microsoft in one of the most competitive fields of the gaming industry. An American game console hasn’t been a major global success since Nolan Bushnell put the Atari 2600 out into the world at the tail end of the 1970s. The Xbox 360, meanwhile, is approaching its eighth year on the market, a lifespan that is literally twice as long as its predecessor. Based on newly revealed data from Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi, the Xbox 360 won’t sit atop the sales record books in the gaming industry, but it has achieved some remarkable feats.
Speaking at the All Things D: Dive Into Media event this week, Mehdi disclosed that global Xbox 360 sales now total 76 million consoles. In September 2012, Microsoft revealed in its financial statements that the Xbox 360 had just broken 70 million console sales, meaning that the company moved around 6 million Xbox 360s over the holidays. An impressive feat for an eight-year-old machine, and twice the Nintendo Wii U’s sales over the same period. The console has maintained its lead in the United States month over month for two straight years as best-selling game console.
Microsoft’s been able to maintain that pace thanks in part to the motion control device Kinect. Microsoft’s now sold 24 million Kinect sensors worldwide. What’s particularly interesting about that figure is that, despite aggressively bundling the two together, the Kinect is not selling in tandem with the Xbox 360. As of November 2012, Microsoft said that it had only sold 20 million Kinect sensors to date, betraying slow growth for the device since global sales sat at 18 million in January 2012. The Xbox 360 was able to sell 6 million consoles over just a few months according to Microsoft’s own data, but it took Kinect to do the same volume over the course of a year.
What does all this data tell us about the future of the Xbox brand? While it’s too early to say that motion control isn’t a key component of Microsoft’s future in the gaming business—24 million peripheral sales in two years is still strong—the data does cement the direction for the Xbox brand broadly. Entertainment, not just games, is the future of Xbox. Entertainment app usage—Netflix, Hulu, Xbox Music, ESPN, etc—grew 57 percent year on year. The Xbox 720 will play high end games, no doubt, but the box will likely be the Trojan horse for Xbox TV.