Microsoft ends production of the Xbox One as focus turns to new consoles

the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S
The Xbox One, left, is officially out of production, as Microsoft focuses on its newest consoles, right. (Photo: Thomas Wilde)

Microsoft has discontinued its Xbox One video game console — or rather, it’s been discontinued for over a year.

The Xbox One, Microsoft’s third model of the Xbox and its entry into the eighth generation of video game consoles, originally debuted in 2013. Representatives of Microsoft told The Verge that it stopped manufacturing new Xbox Ones at the end of 2020.

At the end of its run, there were three models of Xbox One on the market. The Xbox One S was effectively the “baseline” version of the hardware, which replaced the launch edition in 2016. In 2019, Microsoft released an All-Digital Edition of the Xbox One S that didn’t include a disc drive for physical media.

A later revision of the hardware, the Xbox One X, came out in 2017. It was meant as a distinct performance upgrade, with significant overall improvements that supported 4K resolution.

Microsoft had discontinued the One X and All-Digital Editions in July 2020, ahead of the November launch of the Xbox Series X|S, with the stated intention of continuing to make and sell new Xbox One S units.

That plan only seems to have lasted until the end of that year. Instead, Microsoft shifted focus to its new Series X, and its smaller, cheaper alternative the Series S.

In retrospect, this explains a few things. Chip shortages throughout 2020 and 2021 meant that ninth-generation video game consoles, like the Series X, have consistently been scarce, right in the middle of one of the biggest boom markets in the history of the games industry. (The lower-powered Xbox Series S, on the other hand, seems to be much easier to find.)

That, in turn, led to many fans buying up Xbox Ones as a sort of consolation prize, and then those got hard to find. As it turns out, that had a lot more to do with supply limitations than analysts had realized, as Microsoft wasn’t actually making Xbox Ones in 2021.

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An Xbox “family photo,” with the Xbox One on the back right. (Photo: Thomas Wilde)

Conversely, news broke on Wednesday via Bloomberg that, as a reaction to shortages, Microsoft’s primary competitor Sony isn’t retiring its PlayStation 4 just yet. Despite the ongoing success of the PlayStation 5, Sony plans to make another million or so PS4s over the course of 2022, most of which appear to be the 2017 “Slim” edition of the console.

Sony’s decision to keep its previous generation in circulation does make the early retirement of the Xbox One seem strange, but Microsoft has never made money off of the Xbox hardware and has increasingly seemed to treat it as, if not surplus to requirements, not necessarily the most important part of its Xbox project.

Even so, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has reported that the Series X|S is the fastest-selling console in Xbox history. It’s even made some surprising inroads in Japan, which has traditionally been the hardest market for the Xbox to crack; the Series X|S has reportedly already sold more units in Japan than the Xbox One ever did.

That seems to be the overall legacy of the Xbox One, at time of writing. In a lot of ways, it was the awkward rough draft for the much more polished Series X|S, and seems destined to be a footnote by comparison to the systems that came before and after it. While Microsoft hasn’t released official hardware sales numbers since 2015, independent analysts estimate the Xbox One sold 51 million units over its operational lifetime.

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