Sony has vowed to ramp up PS5 production to “levels that [it has] never achieved before” in order to keep up with surging demand. In a briefing with investors, Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan describes the successes and struggles the company has faced since launching its latest console.
In a recent update, Sony said it had sold only 2 million PS5 consoles last quarter, bringing the overall total to 19.3 million. Not only is that a significant decline from the prior quarter, but it means the company sold 3.1 million fewer PS5 units than PS4 consoles at the same point in their lifetimes.
Sony is hitting sales bottlenecks not because of a dip in demand, but due to supply shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Demand, in fact, remains high, with Sony claiming that 80,000 PS5 units can be sold in 82 minutes whereas the same number of PS4s would sell over nine days. At the one-year mark, 55% of surveyed consumers were still interested in the PS5, whereas only 28% wanted a PS4 on its first anniversary.
Sony believes it can increase supply rapidly enough for the PS5 to overtake the PS4 in sales in its fourth year of release, or in 2024. In the meantime, the company will turn to multiple suppliers “for greater agility in unstable market conditions” to mitigate supply shortages caused by the pandemic and avoid potential issues with “logistics and parts inventory” resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Looking beyond the initial ramp-up, Sony is “planning for heavy further increases in console production, taking us to production levels that we’ve never achieved before,” Ryan said during an investor briefing.
Although Sony isn’t selling as many current-gen consoles, the company is benefiting from game monetization increases. The PS5 has enjoyed a 15% jump in in-game spending over the PS4. Game add-ons account for an increasing portion of that revenue, jumping 247% across the console generations, while the sale of full games has declined by 21%. Also accounting for an overall increase is a spike in subscription revenue.
As the PS5 struggles to find its footing, the PS4 continues to defy its age, breaking late life cycle records. Sony notes that in the second year of the PS4, there were 36.1 million PS3 users, whereas, in the second year of the PS5, there are 84 million PS4 users. This success should, of course, be viewed with an asterisk given the PS5's very limited availability over those 24 months.
Turning to its strategy on game releases, Sony said it wants around half of its game releases to also be on PC and mobile by 2025. It would mark a significant increase compared to this year, when around a quarter of the company’s releases were on those two platforms. The company is already seeing benefits from expanding beyond its own platform: sales for games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Days Gone, and God of War, have led to a forecast of $300 million in PC sales versus $80 million last year.
“By expanding to PC and mobile, and it must be said… also to live services, we have the opportunity to move from a situation of being present in a very narrow segment of the overall gaming software market, to being present pretty much everywhere,” said Ryan, according to Video Games Chronicle.