PS4 momentum increases as sales approach 60 million and profits rise

If Apple is the iPhone company, Sony is most certainly the PlayStation company. Nick Summers from Engadget:

 The company sold 20 million PlayStation 4 consoles over the 12-month period, beating the 17.7 million figure posted in its 2015 fiscal year. Those numbers helped Sony’s gaming division pull in 1,650 billion yen (roughly $14.73 billion), a 6.3 percent increase year-over-year. More importantly, gaming-related profit rose by an impressive 46.9 billion yen to 135.6 billion yen (roughly $1.1 billion), up from 88.7 billion yen the year prior. 

For Q4 2016, Sony Mobile was able to post a profit mainly due to cost cutting measures but as PlayStation shows, the healthy way to do it is by creating a product consumers want to buy in droves and nearly four years in, the momentum is as strong as ever for Sony’s gaming division. So why are profits up by over 6% compared to the year before?

Sony profits to reach highest since 1998?


Following the positive news from earlier this week, we will likely see Sony, when they reveal their earnings report on Friday, post their second consecutive year with profits reaching $2 billion, meaning that this could be their best year since 1998. From Bloomberg:

 Sony Corp. shares jumped the most in almost three months after the company’s better-than-projected preliminary earnings boosted analyst confidence in its ability to hit the highest profit levels in almost two decades.

The Tokyo-based company rose as much as 4.6 percent in early Tokyo trading, headed for its biggest jump since Feb. 3. Sony reported preliminary operating profit of 285 billion yen ($2.6 billion) for the fiscal year through March 2017, 19 percent higher than its previous forecast, according to a statement Friday after the close. It also said net income would be about 73 billion yen, more than twice the previous forecast.

That triggered JPMorgan Chase & Co. to upgrade its rating on the stock to overweight from neutral, while analysts from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Credit Suisse Group AG reiterated bullish outlooks. They say that the previous fiscal year’s firm results indicate Sony can achieve operating profit of 500 billion yen, which would be the highest level since 1998. 

Xbox head Phil Spencer talks trading notes on VR with PlayStation team


Microsoft’s Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, is someone I continue to have great respect for. Listening to him talk, it’s clear that he has the utmost passion for his company and the greater gaming industry that they operate in. On many occasions, Spencer has gone on record for his admiration, if not acceptance, of milestones achieved by PlayStation. In previous console generation cycles, mudslinging between competitors was an all too familiar affair that sadly still runs deep among users of both platforms.

When speaking to Gamasutra about the current status of VR and Xbox’s approach to it, Spencer said:

 The Sony guys have been great. they’ve had our teams down, we’ve had them up to look at HoloLens and stuff that’s been going on. Obviously Valve’s about a stone’s throw from here. So the VR community itself is actually very collaborative because I think everybody realizes how early we are in the evolution of what this thing is about. 

PS4 doubles storage to 1TB while keeping $299 price


Good news for those looking to purchase a PS4 soon. Coming later this month, PS4 will ship with a standard 1TB drive versus the current 500GB while keeping its $299 price point. Announced in September, known as PS4 Slim, the new model provides a smaller footprint than its predecessor with a slightly redesigned DualShock 4 controller which I must say feels a lot better.

PlayStation Vue partners with ESL to launch esportsTV


A quick Friday story for you. PlayStation Vue, the streaming TV service from Sony, is expanding its channel lineup by creating a new and unique channel that will be exclusive to the service. Jacob Wolf writes this for ESPN Esports:

Sony to create games for Microsoft HoloLens


A bit of odd news to kick off your Monday morning. Kyle Melnick writes this for VR Scout:

 the company has had to look to new platforms to extend their marketing reach even further. This apparently includes releasing an mixed reality Smurfs-themed children’s experience for the HoloLens.

Developed as part of a partnership between media agency OMD, AOL advertising content creators Partner Studio and VR production company UNIT9 

Sony to smartly expand PlayStation VR presence to arcades and theme parks


According to a new bit out by the WSJ which was reported on by Gamasutra, Sony is looking to expand the presence of PlayStation VR.

 Sony will start pushing its PlayStation VR virtual reality headset as a commercial device after making “slower-than-expected” progress in the consumer arena, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing people familiar with the matter.

Sony’s video game wing has established a “location-based entertainment” unit tasked with leading the commercial VR charge and finding partners in various industries, the report said. 

Reading the above piece might make you think that Sony wants to utilize PSVR in different commercial fields like say business or medical but that’s not all that’s happening. Instead, Sony will target

Exclusive gap between PS4 and Xbox One keeps on growing


As Paul Tassi writes for Forbes, there’s no two ways around it – Xbox One launched as a mess and as a result, Microsoft has never been able to get the traction it did with Xbox 360 despite all the positive momentum it had against Sony.

 This topic is unavoidably going to turn into a fanboy minefield in short order, but the narrative is pretty clear. Sony is doing a great job cultivating high-quality exclusive sequels from its storied franchises, but also creating new IPs that are must-have games. This is in contrast to Nintendo, which always produces solid first-party titles, but lacks most everything that’s third-party multiplatform, and Xbox, which still has a few core exclusive franchises, but they’re not what they once were, and Microsoft is almost more likely to cancel new exclusive IPs than see them to completion at this point.

There are many stories about how Sony got this far out in front of its competition this generation, and the most common tale is how Microsoft botched the reveal and rollout of the Xbox One at launch, first messing around with the idea of an always-on console that possibly was going to use discs as mere licenses, but even after scrapping that idea, still launching at a higher price with less power and marrying the system to an albatross called Kinect 2.0. 

One of the smartest things Sony has ever done is to invest in top first party studios, something Microsoft has never given much thought to.

 Microsoft has certainly produced some good games. I loved Halo 5, and was satisfied with Gears of War 4. ReCore is creative and Forza always fills the racing niche better than its rivals. I think Sunset Overdrive was a promising new IP that didn’t get enough love. Dead Rising and State of Decay are uh, adequate zombie franchises.

But the list sort of peters out there, and the only game there I would actually consider can’t-miss is probably Halo. If you flip to Sony, you have Until Dawn, Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, The Last Guardian, Nioh and Horizon Zero Dawn, with The Last of Us 2 and God of War 4 up ahead. And most of these aren’t just good. Many of the released titles are Game of the Year contenders in some capacity, which is something I don’t think anyone has said lately about Gears 4 or Halo Wars 2 outside of die-hard Xbox fans. 

Internal studios aside, level of freedom is another reason why developers stick to working with Sony and in many cases, might get first pass at titles as well.

Media Player updated on PS4 Pro to support 4K


It’s as if PlayStation heard that I just bought the X940E because a new update awaits PS4 Pro users which gives the Media Player app the ability to output content in 4K. John Koller Vice President, PlayStation Brand Marketing, SIEA writes for PS Blog:

 Starting later today, the Media Player app is getting an update to support 4K video playback on PS4 Pro. Following this update, 4K videos in mp4 format saved on a USB stick or home server can be played on the Media Player app (remember, you’ll also need a 4K compatible TV to watch the videos in 4K).

Your home server will appear as a media option in the Player automatically, so finding your media is simple and quick. Just a reminder: USB storage that’s already been formatted as extended storage for your PS4 can only be used to save games and apps — it can’t be used to save and play videos. 

Luckily for PlayStation VR owners, there is also a noteworthy update, especially if you’re finding your own VR content online but would like to play it back on PSVR.

PS3 production finally coming to an end


Way back in November 2006, the PS3 was launched and since then, the powerful console has come to sell 80 million units as of November 2013. Now I’m not entirely sure why that number hasn’t been updated since then but perhaps not so coincidentally, that’s also when PS4 launched and with it, took all the wind out of its predecessor’s sails.

PlayStation dominated 2016 with 57% console market share


For all the divisions that have troubles at Sony, there’s one that seems to be doing no wrong as of the launch of PS4. Dean Takahashi writes for VentureBeat that, according to market researcher IHS Markit,

 Sony dominated the game console hardware, software, and service market in 2016, capturing a total of 57 percent share, or $19.7 billion of spending by gamers.

That trend is expected to continue for 2017 with a slight rise to $20 billion. Typically raising that numbers a few years into a consoles lifespan is a difficult task as console prices tend to drop yearly but with release of PS4 Pro and PSVR, Sony’s had a stable release of new hardware at the $399 price point while the original PS4 price drops. 

As for the competition like Xbox One – well, what competition?

PlayStation Now will soon stream PS4 games


In mid February, news came from PlayStation that their streaming service known as PlayStation Now would be dropping support for every platform other than PS4 and PC. This meant that you could no longer stream PS3 and older games on your Sony TV, Blu-ray player, and even select Samsung TV lineups. I’d written then:

 With the service being limited to PS4 and PC, this presumably would allow for more local processing to be done which means more powerful experiences.

It’s safe to assume that at some point, Sony would want to bring PS4 or PS VR games to PS Now 

And it looks to be the case.

No Man’s Sky – The Path Finder Update feels almost like an entirely new game, 4K HDR support for PS4 Pro


It’s no secret that No Man’s Sky was met with mixed reviews. While some adored the idea of exploring the universe quietly by yourself, others found there to not be enough substance to keep their attention long enough and what there was to do felt too repetitive. Now months after the game’s release, a large new update is dropping, which frankly feels like a mini expansion pack that will bring hoards of new features and vehicles to the game alongside PS4 Pro with HDR support. Specifically, the Path Finder update brings with it:

Sony racks up 18 iF Design Awards, including three golds

iF_Awards_2017_LogoYou know what Sony’s amazing at? Designing products and winning awards for them. You know what Sony is terrible at? Telling the world and not regular readers of sites like SRN that they make these fantastic products.

 Today Sony is proud to announce that 18 products have been honoured with iF Design Awards, including three prestigious gold awards. The products that have won gold awards are the PS-HX500 turntable, Future Lab Program™ T Interactive Projector and PlayStation®VR (PS VR) virtual reality system for PlayStation®4, from Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE). 

Here are the products that won:

PlayStation Messages & Communities apps on iOS/Android receive minor new features

playstation_messagesPS4 and PS4 Pro weren’t the only things Sony brought big updates to this morning. After PS4 system software update 4.5 went live, the PS Messages and Communities apps on iOS and Android also received an update with some noteworthy tweaks though nothing as big as the PS4 update.

  • When you receive a Party invitation from your friends on PS Messages, now you can respond with a quick reply, I’ll join later or Sorry, I can’t join, when you want to get back to them ASAP.
  • On the Communities app, you can now easily check the PSN service status under Settings > View Status of PSN Services.
  • Also on the Communities app, iOS users can tell at a glance if there are any new posts in their community by checking the badge app icon (the number in a red circle at the top-right corner of the app’s icon).

Specifically, the update brings the following to each app: