The early sales of Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 will not be indicative of their true popularity, according to Microsoft's Phil Spencer -- whichever company takes an early lead will be a matter of supply rather than demand.
In a long interview with ShackNews, Spencer addressed the tendency for people to look at sales of the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles this year and declare "a winner and... a loser."
"I just disregard that," he continued. "Frankly, this holiday, supply is going to dictate how many consoles are sold more than demand.
"That battle is not going to be a reflection of demand -- it'll be a reflection of supply."
When asked about the apparent plan to have Halo Infinite ready for the launch of Xbox Series X|S, Spencer confirmed that Microsoft had planned around that being the case.
"Frankly, this holiday, supply is going to dictate how many consoles are sold more than demand"
"I wanted Halo Infinite at launch," he added. "There was no doubt about that... But the safety and health of the team has got to be first and foremost, and then the quality of the game. Those things have to win over anything else."
However, while Spencer acknowledged inevitable comparisons between the launch line-ups of Xbox and PlayStation, he emphasised that the impact of Halo's delay was eradicated by the inability of both companies to make enough units to satisfy demand.
"If they're both sold out completely, I'm not sure the launch lineup had much impact on anything other than maybe some review score.
"The number one thing that's going to dictate how many consoles we sell is not the competition and it's not a Halo or a launch lineup; it's going to be how many units we can build."
Spencer added: "I think the possibility of Halo Infinite launching beside Xbox was more of a brand and heartfelt moment for us than it was critical to the launch."
The more important milestone in terms of competition between PlayStation and Xbox will be holiday 2021, Spencer argued. At that point, both companies "will have supply, so there will be a demand constraint rather than a supply constraint in the next year."
Supply has been a visible issue at the launch of this generation, with some people who pre-ordered a new Xbox console being told it may be December before they receive the product.