Sony’s latest FY2022 Q2 financial results have revealed its PlayStation Plus subscription service is faltering, losing around 1.9 million subscribers between the July and September 2022 period. This directly follows the relaunch of the service, where it evolved to offer a back-catalogue library of games for download and play. Several premium tiers were made available for subscribers – including a basic ‘Essential’ tier that remained largely unchanged from the existing service.
As reported by VGC, subscriptions in this launch period dropped from 47.3 million to 45.4 million in the quarter, representing a notable loss. This is despite the major service overhaul which added in new features and benefits for subscribers. The Monthly Active Users (MUAs) on the PlayStation platform also dropped in this period, down to 102 million, compared to 104 million in the prior year.
In a follow-up earnings call translated and transcribed by VGC, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki alleged this drop was due to declining third-party games and ‘more people going outdoors’.
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‘More people are now going outdoors, and we have yet to get out of the negative cycles. PS4 and third-party software sales have also been rather sluggish, and sales of catalogue titles have also been declining,’ Totoki said.
‘Against that, PS5 engagement is quite high, so in Q3 we expect some recovery. We have strong titles from first-party, and we have some seasonal effects. So, in Q3 we can see some recovery from the downturn trend – that’s our expectation.’
An additional statement from Sony claimed there was ‘a greater decline in user engagement among PlayStation 4 users than expected,’ which allegedly added to the overall decline in the PlayStation Plus subscriber numbers.
It’s also possible subscribers chose to use the launch period of the ‘all-new’ PlayStation Plus to reassess the use of their subscription – or that the ongoing cost of living crisis forced an overall re-evaluation of finances. Whatever the case, it does appear PlayStation Plus is experiencing a minor downturn.
That said, it hasn’t impacted Sony’s bottom line significantly. The company still reported a 10% increase in Sony Network services revenue this quarter, which includes advertising. As VGC points out, this means the gaming division of Sony is likely making more money per subscriber than in the prior reporting period, despite the headcount loss.
As we heard towards a blockbuster period for new game releases – early 2023 is stacked with choices, including PlayStation console exclusives like Forspoken – it’s likely the PlayStation Plus subscriber numbers will reclaim some stability, although growth is not guaranteed.