PlayStation hopes that its recently expanded subscription service and getting more PS5 units into the market will counter the decline in player engagement it’s experiencing this year.
During its latest earnings call, transcribed by Seeking Alpha, Sony’s executive deputy president and chief financial officer Hiroki Totoki said total gameplay time among PlayStation users was down 15% year-on-year in the three months ended June 30, 2022.
June was reported as a stronger month, up 3% over May but still down 10% when compared to June 2021.
This, Totoki said, was a “much lower engagement level than we anticipated in our previous forecast.”
“We believe the main reason for this is that the growth of the overall game market has recently decelerated as opportunities have increased for users to get out of home as COVID-19 infections have subsided in key markets,” he told investors.
Sony plans to increase user engagement in the second half of the financial year by increasing the supply of PS5 hardware, and promoting the new PlayStation Plus services.
In June, the company expanded its subscription service into a multi-tiered offering, with those on more expensive tiers gaining access to what used to be the PlayStation Now library and streaming service, as well as new benefits like game trials.
The launch appears to have little effect so far, with Sony reporting PlayStation Plus subscribers had reached 47.3 million by the end of the first quarter of its financial year – only 2% above where it was at the same point in 2021.
But this only accounts for the first month of launch, with Sony planning to promote the service throughout the year.
Totoki also hopes that the release of more major titles – including God of War: Ragnarok – in the final quarter of 2022 will also drive engagement.
In terms of supply, he added that Sony is not changing its forecast of 80 million PS5 units sold by March 31, 2023.
He continued: “But since we are seeing recovery from the impact of the lockdown in Shanghai, and a significant improvement in the company’s supply, we are working to bring forward more supply in the end holiday selling season.”
Elsewhere in the call, Totoki was asked whether Sony needs to increase the price of PlayStation 5, to which he responded: “At this point in time, there is nothing I can tell you… specific about prices.”