Reaction: Why You Shouldn't Worry Too Much About PS5's Year-on-Year Decline 1
Image: Push Square

The games industry is caught in a tidal wave of negativity, and if you pay attention to social media, you may be forgiven for thinking the sky is falling. Sony posted a pretty positive financial report earlier this week, but the headlines that have come out of it run counter to that: PS5 declined 29 per cent year-over-year, is trending behind PS4 worldwide, and missed its revised forecast.

Here’s why context is important.

A year ago, between 1st January and 31st March 2023, the PS5’s sales exploded 219 per cent year-over-year. This is because Sony, as was widely publicised at the time, finally solved its pandemic-induced stock issues, and launched a gigantic global campaign to promote its new-gen console’s availability. This resulted in a record-breaking quarter for the brand, where it shipped 6.3 million consoles.

To put that into perspective: the PS4’s best-ever Q4 managed just 3.1 million units, less than half the abovementioned total. The 29 per cent decline in this most recent quarter is being compared to unprecedented success, then. In fact, the 4.5 million units that PS5 did ultimately ship is significantly higher than the PS4 record discussed above.

Reaction: Why You Shouldn't Worry Too Much About PS5's Year-on-Year Decline 2
Image: Push Square

It’s true that PS5 is trending just under a million units behind PS4 at this point in its lifecycle, but additional context is needed here, too. The disruption caused by the pandemic has caused this generation to become lopsided, where Sony’s basically been playing catch-up since the start. Not only that but the PS4 Pro had released at this stage in the previous generation, and the PS4 Slim had received several sharp price cuts as well.

Circana’s Mat Piscatella noted on social media this week that PS5 is actually 7 per cent ahead of PS4 launch aligned in the United States, meaning it’s the rest of the world where the new-gen console is falling behind. And there’s a very simple explanation for that: Sony has actually increased the price of its flagship format in basically all regions outside of the United States.

This article isn’t intended to paint PlayStation in a perfect light: there are still issues the manufacturer needs to overcome. Can it get the price of hardware down and reach a wider audience? Can it accelerate first-party software development to release titles in a timelier manner? And can it improve its profit margins, so it’s not operating on a constant knife-edge?

These are all things that incoming CEOs Hermen Hulst and Hideaki Nishino will need to resolve. But in the light of a seemingly never-ending stream of video game industry negativity, sometimes it’s important to bring some context. Sony has plenty of work to do, there’s no doubt about that – but look beyond the fear-mongering headlines, and you’ll see PS5 is doing just fine.

What are your thoughts on the PS5’s performance recently, and what can Sony do to maintain momentum? Are you worried consoles are on the way out, or is all the negativity getting a little overblown online? Let us know in the comments section below.