“There is a high demand for gaming consoles right now,” says the Xbox boss.
The Xbox Series X and Series S are going through some pretty interesting launches, and that’s not just because they’re releasing in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s also because the two consoles don’t have a lot of major exclusives to speak of at launch. And in an industry that puts so much stock in launch lineup for new hardware, that’s been an unusual sight to see, to say the very least.
Of course, Halo Infinite was supposed to be the big launch game for the two new Xbox consoles, before it got delayed into 2021. And while that was definitely a blow felt by Microsoft and by all prospective Xbox owners, Xbox boss Phil Spencer believes that a strong launch lineup with exclusives isn’t actually something that new consoles need to sell units anymore. With consoles in heavy demand, Spencer believes it will be supply more than anything else that will dictate sales.
“Sales are going to be dictated by supply this holiday,” he said in an interview with Shacknews. “I know there’ll be press that will want to write, ‘Xbox launch lineup versus PS5 launch lineup.’ But if they’re both sold out completely, I’m not sure the launch lineup had much impact on anything other than maybe some review score. It’s not going to dictate what, how many consoles we sell. The number one thing that’s going to dictate how many consoles we sell is not the competition and it’s not a Halo or a launch lineup. It’s going to be how many units we can build.”
“Our pre-orders sold within hours, and that’s true of the competition as well,” Spencer said. “There is a high demand for gaming consoles right now, and we’re both going to build as many as we can. So I think the possibility of Halo Infinite launching beside Xbox was more of a brand and heartfelt moment for us than it was critical to the launch. In fact, you could argue that holiday 2021 from a lineup is probably more important because from a competitive standpoint, both consoles—knock on wood—will have supply so there will be a demand constraint rather than a supply constraint in the next year.”
Following that, Spencer went on to emphasize the Xbox Series X/S’ backward compatibility capabilities at launch, comparing the two systems to the Xbox One at launch, which had a dedicated launch lineup, but no backward compatibility when it released. According to Spencer, Xbox’s new approach is much more preferable.
“I think this is going to be a console that launches with thousands of games because of back compat, and hundreds of games that you’re going to get to go play day one,” he said. “I remember the days when no compatibility was there. Xbox One was one of these: It had Killer Instinct, Ryse, Lococycle, and a few third-party games. But I lost access to everything I was playing on 360 for the most part. I like this world better, which is more continual, and gives people a lot more things to play.”
The Xbox Series X and Series S are both out now globally.