News Article

Blimey, Only Four in Ten PlayStation Games Actually Make Money

Posted by Kell Andersen


Many of us play video games, but very few of us can fully appreciate just how harsh the business surrounding our hobby can be. As it turns out, releasing a piece of interactive entertainment is an incredibly risky gambit, and in a recent interview, Sony Worldwide Studios head Shuhei Yoshida revealed just how dicey the industry can get.

"We look at our financial results of the titles, and probably three or four out of ten make money, and maybe one or two make all the money to cover the cost of the others titles," Yoshida said. "So we have to be able to maintain that hit ratio at a certain level to be able to continue in the business, so we always try to find out and support and help grow the talent."

While this statistic is certainly a teensy bit worrying, after selling a PlayStation 4 to just about every living human, we don’t suspect that the firm will be too concerned. In truth, the fact that the Japanese giant is committed to pursuing the titles that it believes are genuinely interesting is incredibly heartening. It’s this dedication to new and unique ideas that attracted many of us to the company in the first place.

Does this news have you worried, or are you happy to kick back and enjoy the spectacle? Give us some intense statistical analysis in the comments section below.


User Comments (23)



XFsWorld said:

So what are the games that actually make money? Uncharted? Littlebig Planet? New PS4 Killzone? The Last of Us?



k_andersen said:

@XFsWorld I suspect it'd probably be things like that, yeah. Yoshida was characteristically vague in the interview, and obviously didn't mention anything in particular. Interesting stuff nonetheless.



get2sammyb said:

Where are all the AAA blockbuster exclusive games?!

Seriously, though, I think they're in a good place with PS4. Franchises like inFAMOUS struggled a bit on the PS3, but Second Son did incredibly well right off the bat. Assuming that the PS4 actually maintains its momentum, I think you're going to see Sony get more first-party hits this time around — I expect God of War, Uncharted, and Gran Turismo in particular are going to do amazingly well.



divinelite said:

Now to think maybe those who dont give money actually is vita titles...
Seriously even i love every first party game on vita maybe only uncharted is making money there..



adf86 said:

@get2sammyb In truth, I think Sony have been shrewd with their budgets, when everyone is talking about Destiny costing $500 million, I wouldn't be surprised if games like TLOU & Uncharted cost a quarter of that to make.



Jaz007 said:

I'm sure it's increased since then, but I know that 2009's Uncharted 2 only cost 20M. I don't think that includes marketing bough.



Jaz007 said:

@divinelite I meant to @ adf86, not you. I accidentally clicked on yours, and then clicked his, and then accidentally removed his instead of yours. My bad.



Jazzer94 said:

This is kinda vague I mean it doesn't tell you what type of Playstation games this relates to, is it the smaller unique japan studio games or the bigger Infamous/Uncharted games.



k_andersen said:

@Jazzer94 It's not clear in that quote, but I think he was talking about everything produced by the worldwide studios, so yeah, the Japan studio stuff and also the infamous/uncharted stuff



rjejr said:

He didn't mention a platform, and I can't tell if he's talking only about the games Sony makes or all games released on Sony consoles. Still, 30%-40% success rate isn't good no matter how you slice it.

I bet not a single Wonderbook game made money, even though Diggs and Dinosaurs looked good they were stealthily released. At least they didn't waste a lot of money on marketing.



Jaz007 said:

I also have to wonder how many games break even. Be if a game breaks even, it can still be a good investment since it can help push consoles and increase consumer loyalty.




I'm not really surprised. For every Last of Us Sony release there's a Lair or a Sorcery or a Wonder book. Just not enough quality in the portfolio. Add to that the fact Sony have entirely failed to market some fantastic games and it explains their poor profits.In the top 20 selling games on the PS4 Sony have three games, 15%! Microsoft on the other have have 40% of the games in the Xbox360's top 20 games. Sony not only don't know what their customers want but have also failed to sell the products they're offering. That's a recipe for disaster.



N711 said:

'After selling a PS4 to about every living human...'. I like that mood



sinalefa said:

Maybe if the majority of players weren't that interested in expensive graphics the numbers would be very different. And before everyone says anything in their own defense, I don't include regulars here, as we are the vocal minority.

Maybe that is why they don't want to make more AAA titles on Vita?



RawShark said:

For every game like Minecraft that sells a billion there's many more that are roundly ignored by the media and consumers at large. Most can only hope of getting a cult following. Even flagship games like Little Big Planet struggled to make a dent in the charts. That being said, (and I know I'm repeating myself, sorry) there's something wrong when a game like Tomb Raider is considered a financial disappointment even after topping the charts and selling a million in its first week of release. It reeks of an industry that just can't sustain itself. Hence the proliferation of indies that everyone keeps moaning about nowadays.



Stuffgamer1 said:

Thus far, the comments seem to be ignoring the subsidizing element here. He said that some of their games sell SO well as to make back the money spent on other titles. IMO, this is a FANTASTIC business method as it increases the variety of software available for your hardcore fanbase. Some games are just very unlikely to make a profit for one reason or another, but you can't do justice to a creative medium if you refuse to make them because of that individual basis.

Seems you're damned if you do or don't though...people complain when companies are all about profit, and they're concerned when they decide to carefully play the numbers like this.



get2sammyb said:

@Stuffgamer1 Yeah, it's also worth keeping in mind that a lot of these games are loss leaders for Sony — by offering a good library of exclusives, it hopefully draws people to the platform, which allows them to make licensing fees off third-party titles, PlayStation Plus, etc, etc.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@get2sammyb Yeah, that too. I really wish Nintendo would consider doing that, but it's been increasing obvious over the years that they don't want to release ANYTHING they can't make a fat wad on anymore (and yet Glory of Heracles made it out for some bizarre reason...go figure). And Microsoft...well, I guess they think it's okay to just bank on a small selection of IP's, and to be fair it's mostly seemed to work for them for a while. Not too sure that'll pan out this go-round, though.



WickedKnightAl said:

This kind of saddens me, but the fact that Shuhei was willing to say it out loud like that tells me they have confidence in the method.

Still, the notion of titles like rain, Sound Shapes, Echochrome, Unfinished Swan and Puppeteer not getting made would be... unfortunate.

I wish there would be another thatgamecompany-type success story where investing in a creative team would yield massive success. For that, I'm expecting good things from Pixelopus (Sony's newest, internally-grown team).



john_c said:

I wonder whether this is the reason both Sony and Microsoft are pushing subscriptions. Will the likes of Playstation Now in future be replacing the need for individual sales and allow a greater diversity of gaming?



BertoFlyingFox said:

It's probably even more skewed with newer, bigger budget titles shooting for cinematic experiences. I wouldnt be surprised if The Order's budget as a PS4 title easily overshadows the budgets for most PS3 exclusives, especially in the advertising department.

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