Last Week In PlayStation #5 | PS5 Sales Near 20 Million, New PS Plus Games Catalog Is Revealed, And PlayStation President Jim Ryan's Email About Abortion Rights
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Publishing every Monday evening India time (early evening Central European time and late morning Pacific time), the series will round up all of last week's PlayStation news and other happenings into one single article.
This edition will cover all PlayStation news from the 9th of May '2022 to the 15th of May '2022.
This is how this article was supposed to start: "Remember last week when I said we would get news about PS Plus' new game catalog? Well, I was a naive man because the entire week came and went without any news. The service is launching next week, after all, so surely this week we get the information we've been waiting for. Right?"
But then, just 4 hours before this article was supposed to go out, Sony announced the PS Plus game catalog, including PS4/5 games, Classic games from PS1/2/P, and Streaming-only games from PS3. Safe to say, my day was made.
But there's more. Sony announced its earnings for the Fiscal Year 2021 last week, so there are plenty of PlayStation related numbers to go through today. Here is what went down in the world of PlayStation last week.
Sony Earnings Call For Fiscal Year 2021
As they do every year, last week, Sony held its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 earnings announcement call with investors. This first section is dedicated to rounding up all the news and information we got from this event.
1. PS5 Sold 11.5 Million Units In FY 2021, Bringing Total Console Sales Up To 19.3 Million
This is an approximate 47% increase in PS5 sales year-on-year. However, it must be noted that during FY 2020 (April 2020 to March 2021), the PS5 was only available for purchase on the market for 5 months.
VGC reports, however, that Sony 'missed its initial target of 14.8 million consoles by over 3 million units'. This is likely due to supply constraints caused by chip and semiconductor shortages. Something that VGC notes Sony had warned would cause hitting its target to be difficult.
From its launch in November 2020 to March 2022 (when these pieces of data were compiled), the PS5 has sold a total of 19.3 million units.
2. Sony Targets 18 Million PS5 Units Sold For FY 2023
Sony's 'sales forecast for PS5s' next year (FY 2023) is 18 million units. This number is based on the company's 'current visibility into parts procurement'.
VGC notes that this is a 56% increase compared to the number of PS5s Sony managed to sell this year. Furthermore, VGC points out that during the earnings calls, Sony CFO Hikori Totoki notes that 'that the company was being conservative with its projected hardware sales numbers because this is what it felt it could “safely” produce within current conditions'.
Whether Sony manages to hit these numbers is up to how well supply holds up, because demand certainly is as high as its ever been.
3. PS4 Sold A Disappointing 1 Million Units In FY 2021, Down 82% From Previous Year
Looks like the mighty PlayStation 4 train has run out of steam. In FY 2021, PlayStation's now nearly 10-year old console only sold 1 million units. This is an 82% decrease from the 5.7 million PS4s sold the previous fiscal year.
9 years into a console's lifetime and you would expect sales to be this low. But the number of units sold in FY 2021 is a massive drop-off from the previous year, and it shows that despite PS5s being so hard to find, people just don't want PS4s anymore.
I wouldn't be surprised if next year's PS4 sales don't even break half a million.
4. PS Plus Has 47.4 Million Subscribers And PSN Has 106 Million Active Monthly Users As Of Q4 FY 2021
We have the latest numbers for PS Plus subscribers and PSN active monthly users. PS Plus, Sony's subscription service for online play, which is set to receive a revamp this summer, sits at 47.4 million subscribers as of March 2022 (end of Q4 FY 2021).
This is a minor decrease from the 47.6 million subscribers the service had when the fiscal year started. However, PS Plus numbers never follow a predictable pattern and keep on fluctuating. In fact, during FY 2021, PS Plus subscribers dropped as low as 46.3 million at the end of Q1 and as high as 48 million at the end of Q3.
PSN's actively monthly users also saw a slight drop when compared to the start of the fiscal year. From 109 million, it has now slightly reduced to 106 million. Just like PS Plus, there is nothing much to read into here, with PSN numbers known to fluctuate during the year. In Q2, they dropped to 104 million, and in Q3 they shot all the way up to 111 million.
5. Sony Reiterates That Quality Of First-Party Games Would Decrease If Launched On Subscription Services
"AAA titles on PlayStation 5, if we distribute them on the subscription service we may need to shrink the investment needed for that. That will deteriorate the first-party title quality and that is our concern. So we want to make sure we spend the appropriate development costs to have solid products and titles to be introduced in the right manner."
These comments are consistent with what PlayStation president Jim Ryan has said in the past. It doesn't seem like PlayStation is going to be putting their first-party games on PS Plus the moment they launch.
But with the way the games industry is moving, and how other industries like film and music have adopted subscription services as the norm, we can't rule out the possibility of PlayStation Studios titles coming to PS Plus the day they release. It certainly doesn't look like it is going to happen any time soon though.
6. Sony To Increase First-Party Spending By $308 Million
IGN reports that during the earnings call, Sony noted that it 'plans to increase software development expenses aimed at strengthening first-party software at our existing studios by approximately $308 million.
Sony explains that going forward, it 'aims to grow the game business by strengthening its first-party software and deploying that software on multiple platforms'. By multiple platforms, it is likely Sony means the PS5 and PS4, alongside PC - a market which PlayStation has made a push into in recent years.
All New PS Plus Games Catalog Is Revealed: PS4/5 And Classic Titles Highlighted
The system of monthly games on PS Plus Essential will remain the same, so we can skip right past that. The second tier, PS Plus Extra, will include up to 400 PS4 and PS5 games. We were earlier told of a few games like Miles Morales, Returnal, and Death Stranding that would be included in this tier. Now we have a list of about 60. Notable first-party titles include Demon's Souls Remake and Ghost of Tsushima, while third-party titles include Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Red Dead Redemption 2.
PS Plus Premium's class games catalog includes original PS1/P games and remastered titles, across first and third-party developers. Notable titles include Ape Escape, the previously leaked Syphon Filter, basically all Jak & Daxter games, and Bioshock Remastered. What is weird, however, is that these remastered titles are PS4 games that have been included in the 'classic games' offering of the Premium tier and not the in the Extra tier.
In addition to the classic games catalog on Premium, there will also be PS3 games playable via streaming. Ico, Resistance 3, Infamous, and the Devil May Cry HD Collection all feature on this list.
Remember the egregious move to have limited-time game trials be a key feature of the Premium tier? Well, they include Horizon Forbidden West, Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, Cyberpunk 2077, Farming Simulator 22, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, and WWE 2K22. I am not sold on the premise of paying for game trials and I don't think I will ever be, but for those who are, these games aren't a bad selection.
The blog post goes on to note that the games in the catalog will 'continue to refresh and evolve over time'. PS Plus' monthly refreshes will stay the same, while 'an additional monthly refresh will occur in the middle of each month with new games' for the higher two tiers.
The service's launch is only a week away, 'starting with Asia on May 24th, Japan on June 2nd, North and South America on June 13th, and Europe, Australia, and New Zealand on June 23rd'. This service revamp may not be for everyone, but it certainly is for me. And oh boy am I excited. June 23rd couldn't come sooner.
Other Bits And Pieces:
- 2019's Days Gone has been officially Steam Deck verified. PushSquare reports that this means the game has 'been officially reviewed by Valve and confirmed to run great on the portable PC'. While the game was playable before this verification, Days Gone now has a seal of approval from Valve itself, meaning you are probably in for a smooth experience while biking around Oregon on Valve's new handheld PC.
- PushSquare reports that there is now a giant gaming dictionary on the PlayStation website. This 'ultimate list of popular, gaming-related terminology' includes everything from AoE (area of effect) to the phrase 'get rekt'. This is hands down my favourite piece of news from last week. You love to see it.
- VGC reports that 'Sony Interactive Entertainment appears to have registered a new PS5 model in Japan. This model appears to feature updated radio equipment. VGC also notes that this model 'looks to be a new "CFI-1200" series model'. When the PS5 launched, the units on market used a CFI-1XXX number pattern, while units of revised PS5 hardware in 2021 used a CFI-11XX number pattern. This latest model looks to be the most recent piece in a long line of minor PS5 hardware revisions, as Sony inevitable moves towards Slim and Pro model revisions for its latest PlayStation console.
PlayStation President Jim Ryan's Email About Abortion Rights
Before we conclude, I think it's important to address this piece of news. Last week, Bloomberg's Jason Schreier wrote a report about an email sent out by PlayStation President and CEO Jim Ryan to his employees.
Bloomberg notes that 'the email opens by addressing several current events including the recent leak of a draft US Supreme Court opinion that signalled an intention to overturn the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide'. In the email, Jim Ryan reportedly doesn't take a stance on the issue, 'instead writing that the company and its community are “multi-faceted and diverse, holding many different points of view.”
He goes on to write: "we owe it to each other and to PlayStation’s millions of users to respect differences of opinion among everyone in our internal and external communities. Respect does not equal agreement. But it is fundamental to who we are as a company and as a valued global brand." The email ends with Jim Ryan talking about his cats, citing that he "would like to share something lighthearted to help inspire everyone to be mindful of having balance that can help ease the stress of uncertain world events".
The report concludes by noting 'employees at several PlayStation studios expressed their displeasure at the tone of the email', with some women feeling 'their rights disrespected or trivialized'.
I think this email's main message is fine. I understand Jim Ryan and PlayStation's move in not taking a stance on the matter. SIE is a global company, with thousands of employees, not all of whom share the same opinion on abortion rights. Whatever side Sony takes, they risk disregarding or disrespecting the values of vast chunks of their employees and user base. It would also be wrong for the CEO of PlayStation to force his personal viewpoint on all employees. In essence, I think the message of 'respect others' opinions' and 'respect doesn't mean agreement' from Jim Ryan to his employees is a perfectly sound one.
However, I think it was tone-deaf and insensitive for Jim Ryan to start talking about his cats in an email addressing such a serious issue. I don't think Ryan had any intentions to disregard the issue, and instead just wanted to boost morale within the company. But you shouldn't be telling thousands of your employees about your cats just lines after you addressed the importance of respect amidst uproar about abortion rights.
Jim Ryan, the next time you talk about serious issues that affect the lives of thousands of people, try to keep your cats out of it.
That is all for this week's edition of Last Week In PlayStation. I hope it was insightful and informative. Thank you for reading and sticking to the end. It means a lot. Until next Monday, goodbye!