November sales figures in Europe make grim reading for Microsoft, as the The Xbox is easily surpassed by the PS5 and Nintendo Switch.
The Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 turn three this Christmas and this should be one of the peak years for both formats, in terms of hardware sales and the volume and popularity of new releases.
But it didn't work out that way, especially for Microsoft, which has seen hardware sales numbers drop since the launch of the big original title Starfield. And now, new statistics reveal just how bad this Christmas is going for Xbox in Europe.
Xbox console sales fell again in November, putting the Xbox Series X/S's overall total behind not only the PlayStation 5, but also the nearly seven-year-old Nintendo Switch.
The PlayStation 5's huge 376% sales increase was aided by the console being in stock for the first time during Black Friday, after last year Sony diverted most of its stock to the US ( which in part explains why in November 2023, PlayStation 5 sales in the US declined by 20% – although all three formats fell by the same amount, with the Xbox also coming in third place in its home market).
In Europe, the old Nintendo Switch, which had an excellent year in terms of quality new releases, saw sales fall 35% compared to last year, but still managed to surpass sales of the Xbox Series X/S, which fell 26% .
There are a lot of caveats here, most notably the fact that the hardware data doesn't include the UK and Germany. The Xbox is generally much more successful in the UK than the rest of Europe (although not as much as it used to be), while Germany is similar to other neighboring countries – so in terms of indicating how successful the Xbox Series X/S is in Continental Europe the numbers are still accurate.
There are no official sales figures, but based on previous years, these percentages are around 978,000 for PlayStation 5, 276,000 for Nintendo Switch and just 54,000 for Xbox Series X/S. The UK would have totally helped the Xbox, but the PlayStation 5 is still more popular here, so proportionally it would have made little difference.
Either way, the results are disastrous for Microsoft, in what should be the busiest month of the busiest year for the Xbox Series X/S.
In terms of software sales, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was the only major release of the month and GamesIndustry.biz reports that there was a 33% drop (including digital and physical sales) compared to the previous year's Modern Warfare 2. It will likely end up being the third biggest seller of the year in Europe, behind EA Sports FC 24 and Hogwarts Legacy.
There have been comebacks before in the history of games. The SNES and PlayStation 3 were both beaten halfway through their respective generations, but ended up coming out on top once all worldwide sales were accounted for.
In Europe, though, it really feels like Xbox is beyond help, with two bad generations in a row and no sign from Microsoft of anything specific to counteract the problems.
Many European gamers have pointed out issues like poor translations (now done by AI instead of real humans) and a lack of marketing to explain the Xbox's problems, but the underlying problem may not even be specific to the Xbox Series X/S.
As Xbox boss Phil Spencer suggested, many people dipped their toes into the PlayStation digital ecosystem during the previous generation and it would take a huge effort to wean them away from it, something Microsoft doesn't appear close to doing in Europe.
The Xbox has always sold poorly in Continental Europe, but Microsoft's response to the problem has never been more inspired than the strange FIFA bundle.
Poor performance since Starfield has seen increasingly loud rumors that Xbox has abandoned or sidelined its console business, but although a Microsoft executive hinted at a “change in strategy”, Spencer insisted there are no plans to bring content from Xbox to PlayStation or Switch. .
Something needs to change, though, because it's clear at this point that, in terms of console hardware, the Xbox brand is becoming increasingly irrelevant outside of North America.
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