Sony Reports Booming PS4 Holiday Sales

Sony Corp. PlayStation 4 As Game Console Goes On Sale In U.S.
A logo sits on the front of a Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) games console, manufactured by Sony Corp., in this arranged photograph taken in London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013.
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

The robust sales growth of the PlayStation 4 is showing no signs of slowing down.

Sony (SNE) says it sold 5.7 million units of its home video game console this holiday season, bringing total sales to 35.9 million globally. The PS4 is, at this point, the fastest selling system in the company’s history.

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Perhaps more importantly, players were buying software to support that hardware. Sony says PS4 holiday game sales totaled 35 million when brick and mortar and digital downloads were combined. (It did not, however, give a percentage breakdown of those sales.)

Game sales are the lifeblood for console makers—and while adoption of hardware has been strong this generation, players haven’t been buying as many games. Analysts say that could be because they’re playing titles longer now than they did in the early days of the Xbox 360 and PS3—as regularly scheduled downloadable content from publishers gives titles a longer tail.

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“We are absolutely delighted that so many customers have selected PS4 as the best place to play throughout this holiday season and that the PS4 community is growing more than ever,” said Andrew House, president and global CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to deliver innovative entertainment experiences.”

Sony defines the holiday season as the period from Nov. 23 to Jan. 3.

Additionally, subscriptions to PlayStation Plus, a $50 per year service that is required if players wish to take part in multiplayer games, were up 60% year over year at the end of 2015.

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The successful holiday, presumably, widens the lead the PS4 has enjoyed over Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox One since the beginning of this console life cycle. What’s unknown, though, is how big a lead that is. Microsoft has not given an update on Xbox sales since March (and even then, it refused to break out Xbox One from Xbox 360). The most recent estimate of Xbox One sales is in the 14-15 million range.

Microsoft said in October that it no longer plans to use console shipments as its primary metric for success, instead opting to focus on engagement, which it judges by Xbox Live users.

On Monday, Microsoft did say that 2015 holiday set “new records” for global engagement by its customers. The company reports that on Dec. 28 there were more gamers using Xbox Live than any other day in its history—and the number of hours spent gaming on Xbox One and Xbox 360 during Christmas week 2015 were up compared to the previous year.

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