Sony report over 110m PlayStation 4 consoles sold as digital profits race ahead of physical

2019 was a very good year for PlayStation, in fact the second best year ever by Sony or any other console manufacturer ever. Over 110 million consoles have been sold with 13.5 million sold last year, not bad for an ageing machine, and software sales topped nearly 245 million games.

However, sales of physical games have plummeted compared to digital releases, in 2019 creating just 6% of the revenue, a drop of almost 40% compared to last year. Digital sales created 51% of the revenue, but that does include DLC which is not usually available as a physical product.

You can see in the graph below that digital software is now outselling physical and as Sony make more money on a digital release as they don’t have to print discs, make boxes, ship the product etc., the profit margins are much higher.

Overall the group reported an operating profit of 238.4 billion yen for FY 2019, down 23% year on year, but they have explained that was because the 2017 financial year was rather low as games such as Days Gone failed to meet expectations, and in 2018 titles such as Spider-Man exceeded sales forecasts by some margin so profits were unexpectedly high.

Over the lifetime of the PlayStation 4 it has generated 83.1% more revenue compared to that of the PlayStation 3.

PlayStation Plus subscriptions are at an all time high with strong sales in the last quarter which ended in March 2020. As you can imagine with everyone stuck at home they are turning to consoles for entertainment and we played 50% more online games in March than we did over Christmas, usually the busiest period.

As Sony have yet to fully reveal the PlayStation 5 and they have to deal with the world changing effects of COVID-19 they have decided to wait until August to reveal their sales predictions for the next year. However they do say they expect profits to be around 70% of the current financial year, most of that will be costs for research and development of the new console but it could indicate Sony are going to take a hit and make a loss on the sale of the PlayStation 5.

As for Xbox One, well, they probably had a record year for user engagements or something, they stopped reporting console sales when they started falling behind PlayStation. Estimates for sales of Xbox One are less than half that of the PlayStation 4 with around 48 million consoles sold.

Source: Twitter / ResetEra

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  1. Remarkable, they’ve certainly got the base numbers to make PS5 a success – as long as the rumoured cost doesn’t put too many off.

    • With digital sales and PS+ making loads of yen for Sony they should be able to take a loss on every console sold and still make a profit in the long run. They did it with the PS3 when there was very little digital sales. Sony should also make up the difference a lot quicker this time around.

  2. Digital game sales should be cheaper than physical games as, like you said, there’s no discs etc. but they are more expensive. With sales so high there’s no incentive for Sony to lower prices.

    • Afaik there is a requirement that new games have to be priced comparitively across digital and physical formats so as not to unfairly undercut physical sales. But i agree, digital should technically be cheaper.

      • Haven’t some developers managed to get around that in slightly cheeky ways?

        Buy it digitally, you get the game. Buy a physical copy and you get the game plus a bunch of other crap nobody wants.

  3. That’s just silly numbers. 7 million ahead of the PS2 was at the same point? The PS5 isn’t going to be cheap, and it might not be the best time to be launching expensive hardware, but it has the backwards compatibility thing. Which might well mean the PS4 ends up with a surprisingly long life. Can it sell another 45m and beat the PS2 lifetime sales? They only stopped making the PS2 8 months before the PS4 was launched.

    Which means the PS5 probably won’t do anywhere near as well to start with. Unless they sell it at a huge loss. Which might be possible if they’re making lots from digital sales and other services.

    And because I like to work out slightly pointless numbers… If the next gen sales match the PS4/Xbone sales and MS took a $100 hit on each Series X sold, Sony would still lose more money than MS on hardware sales if they sold it at $44 less than it cost. Both machines are probably going to cost the same unless someone decides to take a big hit on the price, or someone gets very lucky on the price of something. (Didn’t Sony take a big gamble on the PS4 memory and get lucky?). Quite possibly one costs $50/£50 more than the other, which won’t make a huge difference in sales. More than that might cause problems.

    • Also, if you stacked them all on top of each other, they’d be almost 6000km tall. (Based on the original model)

      Place them all side by side, and it’s 30000km. Or 3/4 of the way around the equator. Some of them may get a bit damp doing that though.

      So 110m consoles is a lot.

  4. Sony has confirmed PS5 remains “on track” for a Holiday 2020 launch in it’s end of year financial report. And no delays to it’s first party studios.

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