Sony just had the best fiscal quarter in the history of the PlayStation 4, with higher revenue and sales of consoles than in any quarter since the system launched in November 2013. In fact, it was the best financial quarter in PlayStation history, as far as console sales go.
During the third quarter of Sony’s 2016 fiscal year — the three-month period ending Dec. 31, 2016 — the company reported that it shipped 9.7 million PS4 consoles worldwide. That’s up 15.5 percent over the 8.4 million units shipped during the same period in 2015, and it’s the highest quarterly total since Sony arrived on the gaming market with the original PlayStation in 1994. (The PS4 figure handily beat the previous record: 8.78 million PlayStation 2 units shipped during the second fiscal quarter of 2003.)
You can see the PS4’s sales performance over time in the graph below from game industry analyst Daniel Ahmad:
Although Sony sold the most PS4s it has ever sold in a quarter, the company reported a 14.3 percent year-over-year drop in hardware revenue to $2.41 billion. Ahmad noted that this indicates a lower average selling price for the PS4 — remember, the “slim” PS4 and the more expensive PS4 Pro are both on the market, alongside residual stock of the launch model — which, he said, suggests lower shipments of the PS4 Pro.
Sony’s gaming division reported sales for the third quarter of $5.33 billion, up 5.2 percent year-over-year. That figure represents the highest quarterly revenue since the PS4 debuted. The company attributed the strong quarter to increased PS4 software sales; last month, Sony said it sold 50.4 million copies of games during what it defined as the holiday window (Nov. 20, 2016, through Jan. 1, 2017). In addition, Sony indicated that PlayStation VR, which launched in October, is doing well enough to have made a material contribution to the sales increase.
Operating income saw a major improvement in the third quarter, up 24.5 percent year-over-year to $431 million. Sony cited reductions in cost for PS4 hardware as well as the improved software sales. The company also mentioned that its strong quarterly performance was offset somewhat by cutting price on the PS4 — the “slim” console launched at $299.99, $50 cheaper than the existing model.
As of Jan. 1, global PS4 sales (not shipments) sit at 53.4 million units — a pace that’s higher than even the PS2, the best-selling game console of all time.