Could PlayStation 5 be on its way?
Aside from the speculation that continues to bubble up, another sign that a successor to the hugely successful PlayStation 4 is imminent: Sales of the nearly 6-year-old video game system dipped this past holiday season.
Sales of Sony’s PS4 system fell 10 percent during the October-December period, the electronics giant said Friday. Sony sold 8.1 million PS4s during its fiscal third quarter, down from 9 million in the same quarter a year ago.
And that drove lifetime PS4 sales to 91.6 million, surpassing the PS3, which sold about 83.8 million, according to GameSpot. The PS4 is gaining on the original PlayStation, which launched in Japan in 1994 and the U.S. in 1995 sold 102.4 million units.
The PS2 was the best-selling console game system ever, surpassing 155 million units sold.
Increased sales of PS4 games and the PlayStation Plus service ($9.99 monthly or $59.99 annually), which gives subscribers access to downloadable games to play at no additional cost, helped drive Sony’s game unit sales up 10 percent to about $7.2 billion — about one-third of the company’s total $22 billion in sales.
Some of the recent hit games for the PS4 included exclusives such as “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” which has sold 9 million copies, Sony says, and “God of War,” which has sold 5 million.
Music, movies and tax cuts helped Sony post profit of $3.9 billion, up 44 percent from a year ago.
But the decline in PS4 sales caught much of the attention, inciting the growing anticipation for a successor to the popular video game system.
“The PlayStation 5 is clearly on the horizon,” tweeted game site Mammoth Gamers.
And the game news site Play4 UK noted that Sony had registered the playstation5.pro domain noting that could signal an “enhanced version of PlayStation 5,” or simply that Sony is registering it “to protect abusing.”
Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida added to speculation in October 2018 when he said the company was working on a new console but offered no specifics. A few weeks later, Sony announced it would skip the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo, the nation’s biggest video game conference, scheduled for June 11-13, 2019, in Los Angeles.
That move by the game maker, which had participated in the show each of the past 24 years, led many to predict Sony might have its own event in 2019 and debut a PS4 successor.
Competitor Microsoft is also at work on a successor to the Xbox One, the company’s Xbox head Phil Spencer said at the E3 expo in June 2018, as reported by Variety at the time.
Nearly one-fifth of game developers (18 percent) are working on games that will play on the next generation of consoles, according to the 2019 GDC’s State of the Game Industry report. Released this week by the Game Developers Conference, the survey involved nearly 4,000 game developers.
Sony (SNE) shares were down 10 percent in early trading Friday.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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