It's been almost three years since Microsoft launched the original Xbox One, and its new, smaller Xbox One S went on sale last month. The company has sold a considerable number of Xbox Ones - it's believed it passed 20 million units earlier this year (Microsoft hasn't officially announced its sales figures for some time now) - but there's no escaping the fact that it was dramatically outsold by its rival.
The PlayStation 4 was released in the same month as the Xbox One, but at one point in 2014, it was estimated to be outselling Microsoft's console by three-to-one, and in May of this year, Sony announced that it had sold 40 million PS4s, an increase of 10 million in just six months.
But Microsoft had far greater ambitions when it was developing the Xbox One. In an interview published this week on Stevivor.com, Microsoft's Phil Spencer revealed that the company originally envisaged sales of 200 million units.
"The goal that the team had was to figure out how could we sell 200 million game consoles," he said. "We've never seen a console sell that many units. The biggest individual console, the PS2, did 120 million or something like that." In fact, by the time Sony ended production of the PlayStation 2, it had sold 150 million units, but even so, Microsoft's goal was still a lofty one.
Of course, when the Xbox One originally launched in 2013, Microsoft intended for it to be not just a gaming console but a full home entertainment system. As Spencer explained, the Xbox team apparently believed that these entertainment features could be a big driver for sales of the new console:
The approach the team took was people are moving to OTT [over-the-top] video services and television’s getting disrupted--and if we could build a console that could be at the center of this transition and really embrace not only people playing video games, but also people with the changing habits in television, you really take the console market and the gaming market and you expand it potentially.
But when Don Mattrick departed Microsoft, and Spencer took over the Xbox team, he re-focused its development first and foremost on gaming.
"When we came in two-and-a-half years ago and started running the Xbox program, I centered us back on not trying to become something other than a game console," he said. "You don't earn the right to be relevant in other categories of usage for the console until you've earned the gaming right, so let's go make sure that's what we deliver."
It's not entirely clear if the 200 million target referred exclusively to the original Xbox One, or if it also included further models in the console line like the recently-launched Xbox One S, and Project Scorpio, which Microsoft describes as "the most powerful console ever", due to launch next year with support for native 4K gaming and virtual reality.
Either way, Microsoft has a long way to go before it comes close to reaching that goal.