In less than 24 hours, the Playstation 4 will launch in Japan. From here onwards, Sony’s unexpected dominance on the next-gen market and its revival in general, seemingly know no bounds.
After some tumultuous times in recent years, Sony is bouncing back with the help of the Playstation 4. Making its early sales forecast, that at one time seemed ambitious, now seem pedestrian and galvanising its strong position against rival console, the Xbox One – the PS4 is already a success story.
And what’s more, it’s having a ripple effect for the Playstation brand at large.
To date, Sony has sold 5.3million consoles worldwide, eclipsing its ‘5 million by end of March’ target with over a month to go. With the Japanese launch yet to come, Sony will be an exceptional position to push towards – and maybe beyond – the 6 million mark by the end of March.
Sony has already seen the PS4 out sell the Xbox One at a rate of 2 to 1 in the UK, with the global picture not much far behind. Microsoft have been understandably cagey about releasing exact sales figures, but most analysts suggest that during the same period, Microsoft have shifted around 3 – 3.6 million consoles. Given that Microsoft haven’t rushed out to deny that information, it’s fairly safe to assume the figure to be accurate.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, the Xbox One is NOT in high demand in Japan – so they cannot expect the same surge in sales when the console finally launches there.
The positive signs for Sony don’t stop there either. Their struggling handheld, the PS Vita, has seen a surge in sales thanks to its PS4 connectivity. Reportedly seeing increases of 163% in some territories (though we’re always a little skeptical when sales figures are given in percentages rather than units), the Vita’s remote play capabilities, combined with the cheaper slim model, could see the Vita’s fortunes taking a sustained turn for the better too.
Perhaps the best news of all for Sony – and customers – is the sharp increase in the number of people signing up to Sony’s Playstation Plus service. Of course, this was to be expected to some extent, because customers are required to sign up to PS+ if they want to use their PS4 online. However, with somewhere in the region of 90% of all consoles sold being connected online through PS+, that is a shocking number of new customers for the premium service (bare in mind, the PS4 does come with a free month of the service, so those figures are likely inflated).
Why is this good for customers? Well, firstly, they get to see how good the service actually is and immediately benefit from Sony’s ‘instant game collection‘ – downloadable games that are completely free while you are a PS+ customer. The free games spread across all three formats in the Playstation family (PS4, PS3 and PS Vita) and have included most recently, top titles like: Resogun, Don’t Starve and Outlast for PS4; Bioshock Infinite, Borderlands 2, Metro Last Light and Uncharted 3 for PS3 (with Tomb Raider rumored to make its debut as a free game in March) and Soul Sacrifice, Street Fighter X Tekken, Uncharted Golden Abyss and the awesome Guacamelee on PS Vita.
With all the extra income from PS+, the service stands to only improve as time goes by.
It may still be very early days in the next-gen console war, but as of this moment, Sony are in an incredibly strong position with no sign of letting up. Microsoft will undoubtedly be staging a comeback, but they are falling behind and are staring at a mountain to climb before getting back into this race.
Perhaps next month’s release of Xbox exclusive Titanfall, will help them claw back some ground? However, with Sony exclusive Infamous Second Son launching the same month and an increase in PS4s availability promised for April, don’t expect Sony to cede either month to Microsoft.
Richard is a father, teacher, gamer and writer. He believes that The Last of Us and Olli Olli 2 are the finest games ever made, feels that the StarWars Saga should only be watched in ‘the Machete order’ and once cleared Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in one sitting. Took him 20 hours, four cups of tea and a sausage roll. You can follow him on twitter @TLOUFactionsMP or @VigilanteSanta and view his occasional twitch outbursts on twitch.tv/spooklebeans.