The Game & Network Services segment, which operates PlayStation consoles, led Sony’s business evolution, according to the company’s financial results for the full year ending March 31st, 2021. Total sales of the G&NS division amounted to ¥2.7 trillion (US$24.8 billion), up 34% year-on-year. Software and add-on sales made up the bulk of this at ¥1.5 trillion (US$13.8 billion), up 43%. Hardware sales rose 34% year-on-year to ¥767.1 billion (US$7 billion), while network services such as PS Plus rose 14% to ¥382.9 billion (US$3.5 billion). Operating income was reported at ¥342.2 billion (US$31.4 billion), up 44% from the year before.
Regarding consoles, Sony revealed PS5 has shipped 7.8 million units into retail since launching in November 2020. This includes 4.5 million during its launch quarter and 3.3 million in the three months ended March 31st. While Sony only reports on shipments into retail, the ongoing sellout of PS5 stock wherever it appears likely makes it safe to say the full 7.8 million has been sold to consumers. Earlier this month, it was confirmed PS5 is the best-selling console in U.S. history, when looking at lifetime dollar and unit sales for the first five months of release. Meanwhile, PlayStation 4 shipments for the full year dropped from 13.5 million in the 2019 fiscal year to 5.7 million, a natural consequence as Sony focused on its next-gen device.
About games, Sony sold 338.9 million units in the past year across the two consoles, up from 276.1 million of the previous year. Of these, 58.4 million were first-party, up from 49.2 million in FY2019. It really was a strong year, with the launch of The Last of Us Part 2 (which sold four million in its first few days) and Ghost of Tsushima (which recently reached 6.5 million units). Digital downloads of full games accounted for 65% of all sales for the full-year, rising to 79% in the most recent quarter. By comparison, digital accounted for 53% of game sales in the previous fiscal year, and 68% in its final quarter. Looking at its network services, there were 47.6 million PlayStation Plus subscribers by the end of Q4 FY2020, up from the 41.5 million seen this time last year.
Game & Network Services remains the biggest segment at Sony Corporation, with its revenue more than ¥500 billion (US$4.6 billion), ahead of Electronics, Products and Solutions (EP&S), the second most lucrative division. For the next financial year, Sony is forecasting revenues of ¥2.9 trillion (US$26.6 billion) for its games division, which would be 9% more than what it achieved this year. Sony also expects an increase in hardware sales and a decrease in sales of third-party titles and add-ons.
POSITIVE INDICATORS TOO FOR MICROSOFT
Microsoft also reported its results for its fiscal third quarter, showing the company’s gaming business jumped 50% year-over-year. For the three months ended March 31st, 2021, Microsoft said its personal computing division saw revenue up 19% to US$13 billion, and credited gaming as the primary driver of that growth. Xbox hardware was up 232% year-over-year for the quarter, with those results attributed to continued demand for the Series X|S consoles that launched in November 2020.
Besides, the company announced total Xbox content and services revenue rose 34% in the quarter, driven by strength from third-party titles, Xbox Game Pass subscriptions, and first-party titles. In relation to games, it was a positive year for its flagship title, Minecraft. Monthly active users climbed by 30% year-over-year to almost 140 million. The company has also generated over US$350 million in player spending from mods, add-ons and other downloadable content inside Minecraft.