Xbox Series X/S Debut Was the Biggest Xbox Launch in History

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S glamour shot-01
(Image credit: Xbox)

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S launched two days ago, and Microsoft’s closing out the week by sharing some celebratory news - the Xbox Series X/S launch was apparently the company’s “most successful [console] debut in history.”

If the dozens of sold out online listings weren’t a clue, the Xbox Series X and S sold very well when they became available to the public this Tuesday. Granted, we can attribute some of that to scalpers, but according to Microsoft, writing this off completely as aftermarket shenanigans wouldn’t be telling the full story. We don’t have actual sales numbers yet, but the company did pull back the curtain on what play looked like in the first 24 hours of launch.

“More games played, 3,594 total, spanning four generations, setting a record for the most games ever played during an Xbox console launch,” Microsoft said of its Xbox Series X/S player ecosystem on launch day. That means some actual players must have gotten their hands on the thing.

However, what’s more impressive is that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S together sold “more new consoles than any prior generation” did at launch. Microsoft didn’t post official numbers, but we can infer how impressive this achievement is from past sales. The Xbox One, for instance, sold “more than one million consoles” at launch, and while we don’t have official numbers on Xbox 360 launch sales, that console is famous for beating the PS3 to market by almost a year, which made it the only HD console option for a significant amount of time.

The Xbox Series S may be what made the difference here, as Microsoft says that its budget next-gen console added “the highest percentage of new players for any Xbox console at launch.” That wording’s a little confusing, but we’re guessing this means that, of players who didn’t own an Xbox One and bought a next-gen Xbox, most of them bought the Series S.

Sony has yet to post any insight into how the PS5 launch went, so we won’t be able to compare statements anytime soon. But that console is also universally sold out now as well, and as we can tell from the Xbox One’s eventual fate, lots of launch sales don’t necessarily transfer to long-term success.

Still, the Series X is taking a different tack than the Xbox One intended to take at launch, focusing less on being an all-in-one set-top box and more on being a sort of mini-gaming PC. It’s also got Game Pass, which Sony has yet to compete with seriously. Both consoles earned equal marks in our reviews, so whichever one ends up being on top this generation is still up in the air.

Michelle Ehrhardt

Michelle Ehrhardt is an editor at Tom's Hardware. She's been following tech since her family got a Gateway running Windows 95, and is now on her third custom-built system. Her work has been published in publications like Paste, The Atlantic, and Kill Screen, just to name a few. She also holds a master's degree in game design from NYU.