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Microsoft shifts to touting Xbox Live user counts over console sales

Microsoft is trying a new reporting strategy for its Xbox games business that will see it focus on "engagement" by touting Xbox Live user counts (rather than Xbox console sales) going forward.

Microsoft declined to report Xbox console shipments in its latest quarterly earnings statement this week, and now the company says that's not an anomaly but the start of a new reporting strategy that will see it focus on "engagement" by touting Xbox Live stats (rather than hardware sales) going forward.

This is a significant shift for Microsoft, which long made a habit of regularly broadcasting Xbox 360 sales numbers. 

But its successor, the Xbox One, has been outsold by Sony's PlayStation 4 console nearly every month since the pair debuted at the end of 2013, a situation Xbox boss Phil Spencer spoke about ("[Sony] have a huge lead, and they have a good product,") very candidly at the GeekWire summit this month.

Of course, both consoles are outselling their predecessors

However, Microsoft took pains to issue statements to Game Informer and other press outlets this week stipulating that it's shifting away from reporting console sales because the company is "more focused on engagement" and would prefer to champion its Xbox Live business.

According to Microsoft's most recent earnings report, Xbox Live's revenues and monthly active users were up year-over-year (by 17 and 28 percent, respectively) as the service reached a monthly active user count of 39 million. However, Xbox console sales fell 17 percent in the same period -- something Microsoft attributes chiefly to drop-off in Xbox 360 sales.

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