Sony began its current fiscal year but announcing a historic $5.7 billion loss, a blow dealt in part by the declining PlayStation division of its sprawling electronics and entertainment business. Things haven’t gotten better as the year’s gone on, as Sony’s recent quarterly earnings report saw its home console sales drop by 30 percent year-on-year. Even though revenues from the PlayStation business are dropping, Sony does have at least one thing to crow about. After six years on shelves, the PlayStation 3 has officially caught up with the Xbox 360 in terms of worldwide sales with 70 million consoles sold worldwide.
Sony made the announcement in a press release on Friday morning that it had crested the 70 million PlayStation 3s sold mark, just after the console celebrated its sixth anniversary on Nov. 11. What’s particularly impressive is that Microsoft announced just this fall that the Xbox 360 had reached 70 million units sold, but that machine hit the public a full year before the PlayStation 3, in November 2005. The Xbox 360 has been the best-selling console in the United States for 22 months running, a streak that’s been maintained thanks to the 2010 redesign and release of the Kinect motion controller. On the worldwide stage, though, Sony’s console is on track to overtake Microsoft’s. Will it catch up with its big brother, PlayStation 2? Likely not as that machine’s sold approximately 160 million units over the past decade, but for a device that was deemed a catastrophic failure at launch, the PlayStation 3 has done okay for itself.
Truth is, both Microsoft and Sony’s console businesses aren’t doing as well as their mutual stockholders might like. Last quarter, Sony’s PlayStation division brought in just $1.85 billion in revenue, down from $2.2 billion over the same period. Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division that includes the Xbox business as well as others like Skype, saw revenue stay static during that period compared with 2011, but the Xbox 360 itself was hit hard. Xbox 360 revenue fell by 24 percent last quarter, down by $418 million.
The long and short of it: The PlayStation 3 has caught up with the Xbox 360, but both consoles are running out of steam in the market. What’s the mean for we players out in the wild? It means that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720, or Orbis and Durango, will be out sooner rather than later.