Tech Transformers

Sony PlayStation 4 sales rise to 60.4 million as console wars with Microsoft's Xbox heat up

Key Points
  • Sony has sold 60.4 million PlayStation 4 units since its launch in November 2013.
  • PlayStation software sales led by games such as "Horizon: Zero Dawn", hit 487.8 million copies.
  • PlayStation Plus recorded 26.4 million paid subscribers.

Sony said on Tuesday it has sold 60.4 million PlayStation 4 games consoles since it launched just over three years ago, continuing momentum for one of the Japanese technology giant's key products.

The figure is up 7 million units from the 53.4 million reported on January 5, the last time Sony publicly revealed sales numbers.

Sony also said that software sales, led by key games such as "Horizon: Zero Dawn", hit 487.8 million copies.

While hardware sales are always crucial, recurring revenues via subscription models has become increasingly important for Sony to take advantage of its large install base. The company said that it had more than 70 million monthly active users globally at the end of March, while PlayStation Plus recorded 26.4 million paid subscribers.

PlayStation Plus is a $59.99 a year subscription service that allows users to play games online with other people as well as access a library of free games.

On top of the subscription model, Sony has jumped into the virtual reality (VR) space last year, launching the PlayStation VR headset and games. There was no word of the latest sales of that device in Sony's latest release, but the company said last week that the figure was over 1 million units.

Guests attend a launch event for the new Sony PlayStation 4 Pro in New York City, September 7, 2016.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

The Japanese titan said it would continue to boost its efforts in VR and other areas.

"We are committed to further expanding our overall PS4 ecosystem, by broadening the PlayStation VR content portfolio, as well as enriching our network services along with our ground-breaking software lineup," Andrew House, President and Global CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said in a press release.

Sony has looked to maintain momentum in the gaming division through the release of revamped hardware. Last year it launched a slimmer version of the PS4, and also revealed the PlayStation 4 Pro, a souped up model of the original.

The company's sales figure announcement comes just two days after its closest rival Microsoft unveiled its latest console — the Xbox One X. Its current flagship console known as the Xbox One has struggled to keep up with the PlayStation 4 and is estimated to have sold 33 million units since its launch in November 2013, according to numbers from research firm SuperData. Microsoft does not release official figures for Xbox sales.

Xbox unveils top secret console 'Project Scorpio'
Xbox unveils top secret console 'Project Scorpio'

Microsoft's Xbox One X is an attempt to fight back against Sony but the $499 price tag, which is $100 than the PlayStation 4 Pro has worried analysts.

"The launch price is a bit steep in our opinion," Mizuho said in a note on Monday.

"The Xbox One X bests the technical specifications for the PlayStation Pro ... but at $499, it'll cost $100 more than the PlayStation Pro which we expect will have stronger exclusive titles over the next year."

The gaming division of Sony has become one of its most important growth drivers where other areas such as smartphones have slowed. In the 12 months to March 31, operating profit hit 135.6 billion yen ($1.23 billion), a 52.9 percent year-on-year rise. It was Sony's second-largest division by operating profit, behind financial services.

Sony shares were trading around 0.4 percent lower on Tuesday, but are up over 23 percent year-to-date.