PS4 shipments near 114m as new generation looms

More than 75% of all PlayStation revenue came from digital sources in the second quarter, with only 41% of games bought physically

Global shipments of the PlayStation 4 neared 114 million in the last fiscal quarter of the current generation -- but all of the growth for Sony's games business came from digital sales.

PlayStation 4 shipped a further 1.5 million units in the three-month period ended September 30, 2020. This was down from 2.8 million in the same quarter last year -- an expected trend so close to the dawn of a new generation.

However, the growing importance of digital revenue in the current generation meant the decline in hardware sales was not keenly felt on Sony Interactive Entertainment's bottom line.

Sony Corp.'s Games & Network Services division reported ¥507 billion ($4.9 billion) in revenue for the second fiscal quarter, up 12% over the prior year. Operating income for the period was ¥105 billion ($1 billion), up 62% year-on-year.

The majority of that money came directly from digital sources, with ¥297 billion ($2.8 billion) from downloaded software and add-ons, and a further ¥96 billion ($920 million) from network services -- together, they represented 77% of all Sony's games revenue, up from 71% last year.

The split between digital and physical full-game sales was 59% in favour of digital. In the same quarter Last year, 55% of full-game sales were physical.

PS Plus gained almost one million new subscribers in the second quarter, reaching 45.9 million by September 30. This time last year, the service had 36.9 million subscribers.

Sony will launch PlayStation 5 on November 12. In an interview yesterday, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said it had taken as many pre-orders of PS5 in 12 hours as it did in 12 weeks for PS4.

Sony Corp. revised its forecast for its games revenue for the current financial year: it now expects to earn ¥2.6 trillion ($25 billion) in revenue and ¥300 billion ($2.9 billion) in operating income, compared to ¥2.5 trillion and ¥240 billion in the previous forecast.

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