While Microsoft and Nintendo are performing reasonably well, Sony is killing it with 94 million PS4 units shipped to retailers during the console’s lifecycle, the company today revealed via its Q3 financial statements.
Last quarter, Sony shipped 8.1 million of the 94. While this number is a drop from 9 million in 2017 for the same period, it’s nothing to worry about. That said, this doesn’t mean customers have bought this many PS4’s. Instead, the number of purchased PS4s is a little higher than 91.6 million. As of now, the console may hit 100 million shipments at a faster rate than the Wii. However, this adoption rate is about the same time as the PS2. Overall, the PS4 was the most popular console in the calendar year 2018 with 17.7 million units sold. For reference, the Nintendo Switch came in second with 17.4 million, while Microsoft is believed to finish third but do not publish console sales anymore.
Interestingly, during the investor call, Sony’s CFO Hiroki Totoki claimed that cloud streaming isn’t an immediate threat to traditional consoles whatsoever. That said, the CFO believes it will be an eventual threat to deal with. On the other hand, Microsoft is premiering its cloud streaming service, xCloud, later this year. Totoki holds that the “largest opportunity” is to increase current network services and “leveraging the strength” of its massive user base.
What could be a threat to Sony is cross-platform and free-to-play games. While he doesn’t go into reasons, one can assume it’s because free, cross-platform games provide less incentive to buy a PlayStation console. However, Totoki claims that Sony’s partnerships with third-parties will help prevent any big losses.
Otherwise, Sony hasn’t changed its forecasts much at all. The company plans to ship 17.5 million console units this fiscal year, ending March 31st, 2019. Subscriptions like PlayStation Plus are performing well, with the network hitting 36.3 million subscribers by the end of 2018 - up 4.8 subs from the year before. Software sales reached 87.2 million units as well, which is 0.7 million more than the year before. 37% of software was digital, up from the previous number of 28%. Overall, the subscription front and digital focus has created a change in the console business where previously the end of a console generation included a decline in revenue, that would generally be seen continued in the first year, as you can see in Fiscal Year 1999/2000 and 2000/2001 and fiscal years 2005/2006 and 2006/2007. Compare that to the steady increase of the PlayStation 4 even as we near the end of its lifespan.
It's nice to see Sony in such a positive space. Thanks to this success, we can probably expect a PS5 announcement within the next few years. In fact, it is rumored that Sony's next console will be backward compatible with all previous consoles.
What do you think of Sony's performance this generation? Are you exciting for cloud streaming? Let us know in the comments below!