There's no way that the series consoles sell at OG Xbox levels. The market was way different back then. Much smaller and only the first Xbox which you could barely get outside the anglosphere.
If the clusterfuck that was the Xbox one sold between 50/60M the series consoles can't sell half of that.
That would mean that the overall console market is having a significant decrease in size (it actually is from the 00s but not that steep)
Wish MS had the balls to release the sales numbers. What if you are "losing" the console race?. Own that failure and improve.
I'm just going off what trends can be seen in places like Japan, and the fact we've had a few other people previously mention it (Xbox Series) was tracking at OG Xbox numbers in NA at least for a few months. The difference in sales between OG Xbox and XBO for their third year isn't even that large: 1.8 million difference at best.
So if we were to say Xbox Series is tracking at OG Xbox levels globally, then they'd just finish at most 1.8 million behind the XBO by EOY. If we were talking about a system like PS5 coming that short of say PS4 by EOY sales totals that wouldn't be too alarming, because of the sheer amount of systems they sell per year. Same goes for the Switch. But with Xbox that's an almost 25% reduction comparatively to XBO in 3rd year selling rates.
I think we also need to consider the market differences here. Remember in 2016 XBO's only competition was PS4; Nintendo was still MIA aside from 3DS due to Wii U's failure, and Microsoft had only just started their Day 1 to PC push. Most of PS4's biggest hitters hadn't even released yet by 2016, which is when that started with games like UC4. Basically, XBO had a lot more actual value to the console market relative to what Xbox Series has today, because Xbox Series is in a much worst competitive state. PS5 has had several big releases within its first three years and carried over PS4's momentum perfectly, Nintendo is back in great form with the Switch, PC gaming itself has grown and MS's Day 1 on PC policy has been in effect for several years.
All of these factors have reduced Xbox Serie's actual value on the console market to the typical gamer a lot lower than what XBO's perceived value was in 2016. Another thing I'd add, is that for the first few years XBO not only had actual exclusives but a few big games. They had an arguably stronger launch lineup than PS4, had the hottest new fighter on the market with Killer Instinct reboot, had Titanfall, had Quantum Break and in 2016 they were going through with Rise of the Tomb Raider as a timed exclusive. That's in addition to still having COD marketing rights up until Fall 2015.
Xbox Series has had none of these benefits, and "cheap pricing value" in Series S nor Game Pass have been anywhere near suitable substitutes. I'm not saying Xbox Series end up selling OG Xbox numbers; they at the very least will outsell that system by the end of this year no problem. But if they don't have a big turnaround near the end of the year, and 1P AAA releases continue to be middling to only "good" at best, and 3P AAA exclusivity and marketing deals continue to be weak...I think they'll end up selling less overall than XBO, certainly.
It's basically a mathematical game. 2004 was OG Xbox's peak year in sales rate; 2005 it dropped from 6.2 million to 4.1 million. However in 2003 they did 5.7 million. So if Xbox Series had a worst-case and continued tracking at OG Xbox pace globally, then for at least the next 3 years we'd probably see it do around 6 million each year. If they pace at OG Xbox for the rest of this year, which gives them (going off estimates I gave earlier) max 24.9 million by EOY, by end of 2026 they'd be at 42.9 million.
Then they'd probably start dropping for 2027 and 2028 as the next Xbox would be gearing up for release, and maybe they end up with a lifetime around 53 million. Which would edge them a few millions above XBO (I personally think XBO had a sell-through of under 50 million but most give it "around" 50 million anyway), but not by much. That's a bit interesting if it were to happen considering they'd of been tracking at OG Xbox levels but thanks to tracking ahead of 360 & XBO for a period of time particularly in late 2021 and early 2022, they'd still get (marginally) more units sold through than XBO.
That's a very worst-case though, and I'd say ends up happening if Starfield doesn't hit, as that sets the tone for what most of the market expects from the Xbox brand for the next several years. If MS don't manage to acquire ABK, I think that would also be a setback but can be nullified in part if Starfield is very clearly a great game with critics and gamers, and also does well in revenue (in terms of B2P sales and what boosts it brings to console sales and Game Pass subscriber increases). If Starfield does great and MS's other AAA games can maintain roughly similar quality and market success, and help grow the brand, then they can probably start returning to XBO sales rate pacing by sometime early 2024, and maybe start outpacing it sustained by 2025. By how much, I think wouldn't be too much, say 25%, but if XBO was doing roughly 8-9 million per year for a big period, that would translate to 10-11.25 million for Xbox Series annually. And, they'd probably be able to maintain that for 2025 and 2026, then probably dip to around 10% ahead XBO for 2027 and 5% ahead XBO for 2028 as the next Xbox is coming out.
So, again, if they were at best 17.8 million sold-through EOY 2022, then are tracking closer to OG Xbox for most of this year until Starfield, and Starfield gives them let's say a 10% boost, then they could reach 24.62 million EOY. 2024 could hit around 9.8 million (15% ahead 8.5 million), 2025 they could do a max 11.25 million or something like that, and again for 2026, then 10.625 million 2027 (8.5 * 1.25) and 8.8 (8 *1.1) million 2028. That's a lifetime total of 76.35 million
which would be...much better than XBO, and only less than 10 million below 360 (which BTW needed Kinect to help provide a sales boost, as they were roughly around 40 million sold-through by the time Kinect came out, or the year before).
I think ~ 76 million would be a best-case for Xbox this gen but it requires they DON'T drop the ball with Starfield, AND that they build on that momentum with their other AAA games for the rest of the generation. However, it also probably requires they do end up acquiring ABK, otherwise without ABK I'd probably roll it down closer to (24.62 + 9.2 [8 * 1.15] + 9.775 [8.5 * 1.15] + 10.35 [9 * 1.15] + 9.35 [8.5 * 1.1] + 8.4 [8 * 1.05] =) 71.695 million
units. Still much better than XBO, but about 13+ million less than 360. Still, it'd show clear upward momentum and would probably convince Microsoft to do an actual 10th gen console on the traditional console business model.
That said they could already have a backup strategy of transitioning Xbox away from such a model by that point in time, and I think whether they start shifting that sooner vs. later does come down to how Starfield performs, and if the ABK deal is successful or not in getting pushed through. It's the combination of those two things; if both turn out bad, Microsoft are going to transition Xbox away from the current business model much sooner, and 10th-gen Xbox "consoles" will in fact be mini PC NUC-style gaming devices with Windows, hardware under the Surface division, and MS going all-in multiplatform. We would start seeing that transition as soon as mid-late 2024 and then rolling out features like a paid upgrade to Windows for Series S & X owners to act as a transition, in 2025. Personally I think Xbox benefits much better as a brand pivoting to this direction for multiple reasons, and it does much better for Microsoft's gaming bottom line too, but that is a slightly different discussion.
If only one ends up going bad, in this case say the ABK deal not going through, but the AAA 1P starts hitting hard starting with Starfield, then MS will stick with the current business model, make some adjustments to things like Game Pass as needed, and see overall install base growth of 20 or so million over XBO, and that sets them up well for a 10th-gen console. If the ABK deal goes through but Starfield is a bust, they're going to take a heavy rep blow (heavier than they currently already have) and will probably need to do some additional heavy price cuts and maybe a streaming-only Xbox system for true mass-market in order to get anywhere near 70 million lifetime install base or even 65 million. But, they would probably still stick to the console business model so they can leverage ABK content for 10th-gen console.