The extraordinary rise of the PlayStation 5

Sony is seeing strong momentum for its PlayStation 5 console, a senior games executive said, with lifetime sales exceeding 50 million units and the company recording its best-ever Black Friday period sales for the device.

The entertainment conglomerate is looking for a strong performance from the PS5, which is in its fourth year on the market, during the holiday shopping season to hit its sales target of a record 25 million units in the current financial year ending 31 March.

“Given the momentum we’ve had in November and a lot of what we’re seeing in December, just in general we’re feeling very good about sales overall,” said Eric Lempel, senior vice president for global marketing, sales and business operations at Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Sony’s games business was its largest unit by sales and the second biggest contributor to operating profit after music in the last financial year.

Management comments in August that PS5 sales had been weaker than expected led to jitters among investors. Sony has said its 25 million unit goal is a “high target and not within easy reach”, with the company looking to strike a good balance between sales volumes and profitability.

“We’ve done some good promotions this year. I will say we’ve done fewer promotions at this stage of the lifecycle than we ever have in the history of the company,” Lempel said in an interview.

Read: Xbox refresh expected in 2024

PS5 sales were hampered by supply chain snarls earlier in its lifecycle. Those have eased, with it now gaining tailwinds including the 20 October launch of critically acclaimed game, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2.

Sales push

The Japanese company, which is known for single-player games, is making a push into live-service titles, which offer continuous online play.

Sony’s Naughty Dog last week said it has cancelled an online game from its The Last of Us franchise, saying releasing it would have hit development of single-player titles.

The company’s sales push comes as the industry debates the future for consoles as advances in cloud technology promise gaming untethered from bulky hardware. For now, though, consoles continue to draw gamers, with Nintendo’s ageing Switch getting a boost this year from the launch of games such as its latest Zelda title.

Upcoming PlayStation titles include The Last of Us Part II Remastered, which launches in January, and limited-time exclusive Final Fantasy VII Rebirth in February.

“We are still pushing really hard, and I think we will have a record-breaking year no matter where we end up,” Lempel said.  — Sam Nussey, (c) 2023 Reuters

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