When it comes to the console install base for the big three platforms, coming by some of the numbers can be difficult. Nintendo has been forthcoming about the Switch due to its current market momentum, and Sony hasn't shied away from the numbers. However, Microsoft has been coy about the Xbox One's install base, but we may have just figured out how well the console has actually been selling.
During an Electronic Arts earnings call (via Variety), it was revealed by EA's chief financial officer, Blake Jorgensen, that Microsoft sold about 30 million units by the end of 2017, even with the addition of the Xbox One X added to the mix. This is compared to the 73 million home consoles that Sony had moved from launch up until the end of 2017.
Variety notes that Microsoft contacted them to clarify that the numbers they calculated were inaccurate, but didn't venture to say in what way the numbers were inaccurate.
Variety also reports that in order to arrive at the 30 million figure it required "a slight bit of math" and some digging in order to reach the figure. As is usual with most stories about Microsoft's sales figures and performance, a spokesperson attempted to redirect the conversation over to the fact that Xbox Live monthly active users were up by 13%, bringing the total to 59 million. However, it's not clarified if that's 59 million active Xbox Live users on a silver and gold account, or 59 million users on a paid account alone. The vagaries about even those shared figures will leave you scratching your head.
Variety came to the 30 million figure by subtracting from the total install base numbers that Jorgensen mentioned during the earnings call, where he revealed that at the end of 2017 the PS4 and Xbox One had cumulatively reached 103 million as an install base. Given that Sony outed that the PS4 had moved 73.6 million consoles by the end of December 31st, 2017, it wasn't hard to round off the rest for the Xbox One, putting it at an estimated 30 million.
Since 2014, Microsoft hasn't been forthcoming about actual sales numbers for the Xbox One home console. The system got off to an absolutely awful start by focusing on television services and home entertainment productivity themed around the Xbox One being a set-top box instead of a gaming console.
Eventually, all the push back and negative press eventually managed to get Microsoft to relent after pre-orders and pre-release sales hype for the PlayStation 4 skyrocketed, and that momentum stuck with Sony ever since 2013.
The numbers for Microsoft's console may be a little harder to read during the next fiscal round-up given that EA will be adding Nintendo's figures to the stable, predicting the Big 'N' to move around 30 million total units of the Nintendo Switch by the end of 2018.
This would mean that Nintendo and Microsoft would tie in terms of market share if Microsoft can't manage to move more units by the end of 2018. However, a lot of the sales growth throughout the year will be determined by what the company unveils at a very crucial E3 this year.