Sony reported its annual financial results this morning, and the company’s gaming division is doing well. PlayStation 5 hardware sales are on a record pace. The company’s services and digital sales, meanwhile, are delivering huge profits. But if what you care about is the games, Sony Interactive Entertainment provided a reason to get even more excited about the future of PlayStation 5 first-party releases.
As part of its outlook for fiscal 2021, Sony highlighted a number of positive and negative indicators for its operating profits. For example, it expects the profitability of the PS5 hardware to improve over the next year. Alongside that, the company also noted that it expects to see an “increase in revenue from first-party titles” compared to fiscal 2020.
That is notable because Sony had a strong 2020 with some massive games launching on a PS4 with a huge install base. If Sony’s fiscal 2021 (which runs through March 2022) is going to deliver even more revenue for first-party games, that must mean Sony has some big releases in the works.
Let’s look at the games from 2020 for comparison:
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- Ghost of Tsushima
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
- Predator: Hunting Grounds
- Sackboy: A Big Adventure
- The Last of Us Part II
- Patapon 2: Remastered
- Marvel’s Iron Man VR
- Tilt Brush
- Demon’s Souls
- Destruction AllStars
That is a stacked roster. Ghost of Tsushima sold 6.5 million copies as of March. And The Last of Us Part II and Miles Morales both sold even better than Ghost (at least in the United States). These are massive blockbusters. Matching just those three games would prove tough for Sony’s 2021 lineup, and that’s before you count games like Demon’s Souls and Sackboy.
So what about 2021? Well, here’s what Sony has talked about or released so far:
- MLB The Show 21
- Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
- Horizon: Forbidden West
- God of War 2
Does Sony have more surprise PlayStation 5 first-party releases for this year?
If Sony is going to increase revenue from its first-party games compared to 2020, it’s going to need to release a handful of blockbusters. And it might do that. Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon: Forbidden West, and the new God of War could match 2020’s trifecta. But that assumes God of War 2 launches before March 2022.
But even if God of War does come out this fiscal year, will that be enough to grow revenues? It’s possible — especially considering that Sony did not launch an MLB The Show during its last fiscal year. MLB The Show 2020 debuted in March 2020 at the end of the previous fiscal year. And MLB 2021 launched in April, pushing it out of fiscal 2020. On top of that, MLB The Show is now on Xbox as well.
Sony also plans to release more of its first-party games on PC. Games like Days Gone hitting Steam will help deliver more revenue for first-party Sony games.
Still, it seems likely that Sony Interactive Entertainment might have more first-party games in the works for this year. During a call with investors, Sony chief financial officer Hiroki Totoki revealed the company is investing more into first-party games this year, according to a VGC transcription.
“We intend to increase development personnel and other in-house costs by approximately 20 billion yen [$183 million] compared to last year,” said Totoki. “This comes as we further strengthen our in-house software.”
But Sony may not rely on internal studios alone.
“To enhance our software offering, we will continue investing in partnerships with external studios in addition to aggressively investing in our in-house studios,” said Totoki. “We aim to strengthen the PlayStation platform through deals like the recently announced partnership with Haven Entertainment.”
These first-party publishing deals could manifest into new releases by March 2022. And if they do, we should hear about them soon.
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