A new model and options for PlayStation Plus subscribers, announced earlier this year by Sony, isn’t going over well.
Their Q2 earnings report for this fiscal year shows they’ve lost two million subscribers since June.
The new PlayStation Plus subscription service, seen as Sony’s answer to Game Pass, comes in several tiers. In addition to the benefits PS Plus members already know, two new tiers allow fans to access a select catalog of select games from the PlayStation library. This includes original PlayStation, PS2, PS3, PSP, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
The company announced a total of 47.3 million subscribers in FY2022 Q1. In Q2, that number went down to 45.4 million.
We received an interesting answer when asked for the reason behind the drop in PlayStation Plus subscribers. Hiroki Totoki, Chief Financial Officer Sony, offered three explanations.
First, a decline in third-party games. This echoes Phil Spencer’s recent comments about the industry still trying to pull away from Covid-19. “We’re kind of out of what Covid did to the production schedule,” Spencer said recently on the Same Brain podcast. He expressed excitement for what 2023 has in store for gaming, indicating that we’re about to see a boon in game releases.
Totoki also mentioned PlayStation 4 sales being sluggish, with “sales of catalog titles also declining.”
Sony clarified further to the website VGC:
“The number of PlayStation Plus subscriber accounts at the end of September decreased 4% from the end of June to 45.4 million accounts. We see that this decrease results from a greater decline in user engagement among PlayStation 4 (PS4) users than expected.
“On the other hand, the ratio of PS Plus subscribers among PlayStation 5 (PS5) users remains at a level significantly higher than that of PS4. We are putting even more effort into accelerating the penetration of PS5 hardware to recover this user engagement going forward.”
The third reason? People are going outdoors.
“More people are now going outdoors,” Totoki said, “and we have yet to get out of the negative cycles. PS4 and third-party software sales have also been rather sluggish, and sales of catalogue titles have also been declining.”
Summer seasonality does indeed exist in gaming, but it is odd to explain a decline in subscribers.
For comparison’s sake, while Microsoft rarely publishes Game Pass subscriber amounts, Spencer recently said they had seen growth on both PC and console. He also admitted console growth has slowed down, saying, “at some point you’ve reached everybody on console that wants to subscribe.”
Microsoft has seen a 159% increase year over year in PC Game Pass subscriptions.
While the PS4 is seeing a lag in PlayStation Plus subscribers, Sony is pleased with PlayStation 5 results. The company specified that PS5 engagement is “quite high.” The addition of marquee titles in Q3, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and God of War: Ragnarok, are expected to help increase subscriber counts.
High PlayStation 5 engagement is likely due to the console’s sales meeting company expectations. Sony shipped 3.3 million PS5 units during Q2. Sony’s overall Game and Network Services revenue for Q2 was up 12% year over year. Profit fell by 49%, but that was due to an increase in game development costs. They also referenced the acquisition of Bungie for $3.6 billion.
The company expects to sell more PlayStation 5 units during the current fiscal year, which runs through March 2023. This includes the important Christmas Holiday season, which unofficially began today. They did not revise their PS5 sales forecast for FY2022. It is still 18 million units.