Sony is making a profit on PlayStation 4 hardware, and it is making even more from its PS Plus gaming service.
In a meeting with investors yesterday, Sony chief executive officer Kazuo Hirai addressed the performance of the company’s gaming business and revealed that about 3.5 million of the 7 million PS4 owners are in the PS Plus program. This is Sony’s subscription service that gets players access to online multiplayer on the new console as well as select bonus games at no additional charge each month. PS Plus goes for $10 a month or $50 annually, which enables Sony to generate extra revenue from their most committed and engaged customers. PS Plus is also one of the methods Sony uses to retain its customers as gamers lose access to the “free” titles when they end their subscription.
“Approximately half of PS4 users are registered to the PlayStation Plus subscription service while the number of active users on the PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network exceeds 52 million worldwide,” said Hirai.
Of course, every PS4 owner gets a free PS Plus 30-day trial, and Sony did not provide the number of subscribers on PS3. We’ve reached out to Sony to ask if it’s including those people in this figure. We’ll update with any new information.
For comparison, Microsoft says it has around 50 million Xbox Live members — although it doesn’t specify how many of those subscribe to its premium Xbox Live Gold program.
In addition to PS Plus, Sony boasted the strength of its overall digital ecosystem. Customers are downloading full games as well as streaming music and video.
“And our PlayStation App for smartphones and tablets that lets players share their PS4 experience to their mobile devices, is also proving hugely popular, with the total number of downloads already exceeding 4.5 million,” said HIrai. “Sales from our network business including game, music and, video services exceeded [$1.96 billion] in fiscal 2013, and we intend to further expand that figure going forward.”
Hirai also heralded the upcoming PlayStation Now service, which enables gamers to stream games directly from the cloud. It is in testing now, and it is likely to debut to a wider audience in the next few months.
“Starting this summer, we will begin distributing PS3 games via streaming to our users in the U.S. on an open beta version of our new PlayStation Now streaming service, first for PS4 and then PS Vita,” said Hirai. “And that’s just the first step. Going forward, we will use streaming to deliver the PlayStation experience worldwide.”
Sony also plans to offer the PlayStation Now service on its Bravia TVs before expanding it to a variety of “connected devices.”