PlayStation Network revenue doubles, may actually start turning profit in 2011.
It’s been a rough time for the PlayStation Network, arriving to the whole online revolution 6 years behind Microsoft’s successful Xbox Live platform and with barely any implementation of what we’d now consider essential features like achievements or a storefront that’s not a nightmare to use. But in the past 4 years it’s grown massively and now boasts over 50 million registered accounts and a list of features on par with its more senior rival.
Of course as with any platform it’s far from perfect, in many ways it still falls far short of what XBL offers and that’s probably always going to be the case in one way or another. However, Sony gave PSN one big, risky, exceedingly expensive advantage that they’d hoped would tip the balance in their favor. They made every aspect of it free to use. Online multiplayer, matchmakeing, voice chat, the lot. The plan was that there’d be so many users flocking to the PSN that Sony would be able to offset the maintenance cost through DLC sales alone without having to charge a subscription fee. While it all sounds wonderfully pleasant and Utopian, the question is did it work? Uh……well….kinda, but it took its damm time about it.
The past year saw a host of new features added to the PSN such as Facebook integration, digital comic books and support from several major video distribution services, all free of charge. As Sony would hope, this in turn lead to DLC sales being on track to double that of the previous fiscal year come early 2011, bringing the total revenue to around £560 million. This will mark the first time that the PSN has actually made Sony more money that it cost to keep the service free.
It might sound like good news but it compares poorly in performance to Microsoft’s XBL strategy, one that’s reportedly netted over £400 million in PROFIT this year alone. Still, Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai remains optimistic, he estimates that the exponential growth will continue and eventually bring revenues to over £2 billion in 2012. Erm yeah……perhaps a little TOO optimistic there Kaz.
It’s unlikely we’ll see PSN switch to a subscription based model this generation but don’t be surprised if Sony start rolling out a few extra revenue streams here and there to help subsidise the service a bit better. We’ve already seen them make their first push in that direction earlier this year with the new “PlayStation Plus” subscription service that gives users some nice discounts and exclusive demos.