For several years, the PlayStation 3 game console was a weight around Sony’s neck, dragging down revenues as Sony’s position in video games fall from No. 1 to No. 3.
Now the PS 3 is redeeming itself, as hardware costs drop, the installed base rises, and game sales take off. For the fiscal year ended March 31, Sony reported that its Networked Products and Services division, which includes the PS 3 arm, reported sales of $16.8 billion, down 10.2 percent from a year ago. Operating losses were $889 million, compared to a loss of $935.5 million a year earlier.
Still, in the fourth fiscal quarter, Sony’s game division posted a profit, the company said. The game business financial performance is masked somewhat because the group sales also include Sony’s Vaio PC business.
But during the fiscal year, ,the PS 3 sold 13 million units, up 3.3 million from a year earlier. PS 3 software sales were 115.3 million units, up from 103.7 million a year earlier. Sony forecasts continued growth in hardware unit sales, with 15 million unit sales predicted, but it expects software sales to be flat. The PlayStation 2 continues its decline, dropping 600,000 units to 7.3 million units sold — not bad, since it has been on the market for a decade. PS 2 software sold 35.7 million units, down dramatically from 83.5 million a year earlier.
But the PlayStation Portable isn’t doing so well. Hardware units sold 9.9 million in the last fiscal year, down 4.2 million units from the year before, even with the launch of the new PSPgo in October. Software units were 44.4 million units, down from 50.3 million a year ago.
Overall, the PS 3 game division is contributing positively to the overall company. Sony itself saw sales dip 6.7 percent in the fiscal year to $77. 6 billion. The loss was lower at $608 million. Sony is hoping to lift overall corporate sales with new 3D TVs and as yet undefined “network services” revenue.