Contrary to common opinion, there aren’t a million PlayStation 5 consoles sitting in scalpers’ warehouses: the system is outperforming the PS4 when launch aligned despite unprecedented demand leading to stock shortages. Need some proof? Well, according to Wired, owners have logged an outrageous 81 per cent more playtime on the next-gen console than was achieved on PS4 during the same post-launch period.
There are a few contributing factors, of course: a global pandemic means people have been spending more time at home than ever before. Furthermore, backwards compatibility means the transition from PS4 to PS5 is much easier than the one from PS3 to PS4; at this point in the lifecycle last generation, we were still playing titles like Dark Souls 2 and Gran Turismo 6 on our creaky old PS3 systems.
Okay, so that explains the massive increase in playtime, but it’s also worth noting that PS5 has seen an 11 per cent increase in game unit sales when compared to PS4 during the same period as well. Again, we’d point to the much stronger release schedule – the likes of Demon’s Souls and Returnal destroy Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack – but clearly these numbers show a much larger level of investment and engagement than ever before.
Sony, of course, will be rubbing its hands together. Selling consoles is just one part of the puzzle for platform holders – and it’s doing fine on that front, assuming it can actually get more stock into stores – as it’s software, subscriptions, and microtransactions that are the real revenue drivers these days. Strong engagement with the ecosystem all push that income up, and PlayStation will be licking its lips looking at these numbers when compared to the extremely lucrative PS4.