Sony sold 7.8 million PlayStation 5s through the end of March, narrowly beating the PS4’s 7.6 million sold through the same period in 2013-2014. PlayStation 5s remain difficult to find on store shelves, both in the US and across the world, and the situation hasn’t necessarily improved much in recent months. According to Sony, it shipped 4.5 million consoles through the end of 2020 (meaning, November and December), but just 3.3 million for January, February, and March.
This aligns well with AMD’s remarks from yesterday that enterprise, embedded, and semicustom revenue was up by $61M on higher Epyc spending, offset by lower console sales. Sony was obviously stockpiling systems to kick them out the door in the back half of the year, and shipments have slowed in Q1. Microsoft sales have also presumably slowed in Q1, though keep in mind that AMD reports revenue when Sony and Microsoft buy the SoCs, while the two console manufacturers report revenue when they ship the systems.
The company plans to redouble production, with plans to sell 14.8 million units “in the second year after the launch of the PlayStation 4.” This appears to be a mistake; historical data shows the PS4 moved roughly 15 million units in its first 12 months in-market. What Sony appears to be saying here is that they want to ship 7 million additional PlayStation 5’s from April 1 through November 11, 2021. This would exceed, if just barely, the first-year sales record for the PlayStation 4.
“Can we drastically increase the supply? No, that’s not likely,” PCMag reports executives saying on a translated conference call. “So the shortage of semiconductors is one factor. But there are other factors which will impact on production volume. So that at present we would like to aim at second [fiscal] year sales at 14.8 million units.”
Sony said player engagement on the PlayStation Network has increased by 20 percent on average, an indication that people have moved inside and played more during the pandemic. The company expects demand to be robust and that it will continue to see elevated levels of player engagement throughout 2021. Sony doesn’t expect to see the same uptick in subscribers that it observed at the beginning of the pandemic, but it believes existing customers will remain active at higher than historical levels of engagement.
Interestingly, Sony has acknowledged that some PlayStation 5 consoles are being sold below cost. In the past, we’ve theorized that the digital console might be below the price of manufacture while the full edition might be slightly above it. Hardware sales revenue for the first three months of 2021 grew by 2.81x compared with the first three months of 2020. Microsoft has already reported a 2.32x increase in hardware spending for the first three months of the year, implying that Sony sales boomed a bit more worldwide than Redmond did, relative to where each company was at the beginning of the pandemic. Microsoft doesn’t release hardware shipments for the Xbox Series X, but data suggests Sony is holding its PS4-era shipment advantage over its console rival.
Sony expects software sales to fall for its Q1 2021 fiscal quarter, which ends June 30, 2021, compared with year-ago levels. The company believes the pandemic inflated sales a year ago when lockdowns were going into effect. It expects software sales to improve and match or exceed the year-ago period from September 30 through the end of its fiscal year 2021 a year from now, in April 2022.
Note: ExtremeTech acknowledges that, statistically, Sony probably sold PS5s to some of you during the past three months. Happy gaming!
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