Phil Spencer used his keynote at this year's Xbox Spring Showcase to ask the press to gauge the success of the Xbox One console using more than just sales figures. He argued that monthly active users are a bigger indicator of performance, and that's not just because the PlayStation 4 is still at the top of the hardware charts.
"The number of people in the last 30 days that have engaged with an Xbox Live game on either Windows or Xbox 360 or Xbox One is the critical factor for our team to gauge our success, because that's what our partners want. Our partners and gamers, they want the largest collection of active gamers who are buying and playing games," he told attendees.
"That is the health metric of any service that you want to talk about. What's your monthly active users in the space? It's not how many consoles I sell. If I sold a console two years ago and now it's in the closet collecting dust, that's not good for the gamers."
"[MAU] is the health metric of any service that you want to talk about"
He argued that using MAU as a key metric for success was actually a risk for Microsoft, because unlike the total number of consoles sold the MAU figure has the potential to go down if players become bored.
"If we have some Live issues like we had in the last week, that's not great for our MAU count. That directly hits us," he explained.
"If we go a long stretch without having great games on our platform, that will hit MAU. That will negatively impact MAU. It's great that we're seeing our strongest MAU growth ever... We're incredibly proud of that, but we know we have a lot more work to do. We pick this metric not to hide something. In fact, I think that we're more exposed by picking a number that actually shows how many people are really using our platform, using our service, every month and reporting that publicly."
In January Microsoft reported that Xbox Live is now home to 48 million MAU, which is an increase of 9 million from the previous quarter.