PlayStation 4 sales pass 75m in another strong year for Sony

Software sales and PS Plus subs were both up, but Sony is preparing for hardware decline in the coming year

Sony Interactive Entertainment has now sold 75 million units of the PlayStation 4, thanks to a Q4 in which another 2.5 million units of the console flew off the shelves.

According to figures released by Sony, the PS4 had sold through 73.6 million units as of December 31, 2017. A further 2.5 million units were sold in the quarter ended March 31, 2018, resulting in a combined total of 76.1 million.

In Q4, Sony's Games & Network Services division earned ¥445 billion in revenue, up 16.5 per cent over the prior year. Operating income was down 13 per cent to ¥19.6 billion.

The 2.5 million PS4s sold in the quarter represented a decrease for SIE, which sold 2.9 million in the prior quarter. Full-game software sales were up, however, from 50 million to 52 million, with 43 per cent of them sold digitally - up from 37 per cent a year ago.

These trends were reflected in the company's full-year results, with PS4 hardware sales declining from 20 million to 19 million. Full-game software sales were 246.9 million, a significant increase over the 217.9 million in the previous year, with 32 per cent of those sold digitally - up from 27 per cent.

Sony can expect a strong Q1 for software sales in particular, with the new God of War title receiving both rave reviews and a very strong commercial reception.

Perhaps the more impressive growth was in subscribers to PlayStation Plus. At the end of Q4 in 2017, the service had 26.4 million subs; at the end of Q4 in 2018 it had 34.2 million subs, an increase of 23 per cent.

Across the entire year, the Game & Network Services division earned ¥1.94 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 18 per cent. Operating income also rose, by 31 per cent to ¥178 billion.

In materials released alongside the results, Sony listed a decrease in PS4 hardware sales as a limiting factor, which was more than offset by the positive of rising software and network sales - trends that it expects to continue in the current fiscal year.

For the financial year ending in March 2019, Sony's games business expects to earn ¥1.9 trillion in revenue and ¥190 billion in operating income, and sell 16 million units of the PS4.

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