Sony blames the pandemic for decline in PlayStation Plus subscribers and users

midian182

Posts: 7,081   +62
Staff member
What just happened? The number of PlayStation Plus subscribers and monthly active users has fallen, but Sony isn't worried; it says last year's stay-at-home orders boosted numbers, and with restrictions relaxing, a decline is to be expected.

In its Q1 financial results, which cover the three months ending June 30, Sony reported 46.3 million PlayStation Plus subscribers. That's up 1.3 million year-on-year, but more than a million fewer than the previous two quarters. According to Resetera (via VGC), it's the first time PlayStation Plus users have dipped significantly between quarters in at least eight years.

The change in the number of monthly active users also made for worrying reading. The 104 million unique accounts that played games or used services on PSN during the last month of the quarter is down 10 million YoY and 5 million lower than the previous quarter.

Sony says much of the decline can be blamed on the pandemic. Gaming, streaming, and online shopping were all boosted by 2020's stay-at-home restrictions and are now returning to more expected levels of engagement.

Sony's chief financial officer, Hiroki Totoki, said the figures weren't necessarily something to worry about. "Of course, 104 million is not a strong number, but are we looking at it as a declining trend? We don't think so," he explained during a webcast. "We are trying to analyze different elements, but there are no conspicuous trends that we can capture. Maybe this month or next month, we will have to continue to watch and do an analysis."

Totoki emphasized the pandemic's effect on the number of PSN users last year. "At the risk of repetition, may I say that last year the stay-at-home demand was so significant in hindsight, so compared to that period last year as a trend of course [it's declined]. [But] compared to fiscal 2019 there is an increase."

"So, we will monitor the situation carefully, and we will deepen the engagement and enhance the platform, therefore during the coming fiscal year, we will take actions to support this business."

It wasn't all bad news for Sony. We recently heard that the PlayStation 5 is now the fastest-selling console in the company's history, having sold 10 million units just eight months after launch—a feat that took the PlayStation 4 nine months to achieve. It's especially impressive given the pandemic, chip shortages, and scalping problems we're still facing.

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Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
COVID should have raised subscriber count not lowered it. Probably because it's too expensive and pointless for most. I have a PS4 Pro but I only play single player exclusives and indie games on it. I don't want to pay a monthly fee and I don't care about multiplayer, I have my PC for that.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that they don't have a subscription service that even comes close to offering the value of gamepass.
Gamepass sucked all 3 times I tried it. Not a single game on there that I had not already tried. Maybe I'm weird but I don't see the good value. Maybe if you did not play any games for the past 5-10 years, it would be worth buying.

I will rather buy my games if they are worth buying.

I would say PS Plus is better than Game Pass if you have actually paid and claimed all monthly games for years, which some people have. Pretty much all the exclusive games have been on there. But you need an active sub to play them (pause is allowed tho).

I don't buy a console to pay a monthly fee. I buy a console for the exclusive games, which I buy on a game per game basis. Xbox have pretty much none (all are present on PC/Windows)

Playstation 4 outsold Xbox One with ease because of the exclusives. Game Pass did not do much about this.

Microsoft bought many good dev's lately tho. I might get Game Pass on Windows (for PC) again at some point, if their store is not absolute trash like it is now.
 
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Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that they don't have a subscription service that even comes close to offering the value of gamepass.
I think that’s it. Game pass is incredible value. Everyone I know on Xbox and pc has it now. By comparison Sony’s offering looks tired. One full price game and a year subscription to Sony costs more than Xbox game pass for pc for a year.
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cuerdc

Posts: 231   +70
Psplus rarely get now play odd game fortnite or warzone where it is not required hard to justify cost for so few other games thats if can fit them on the hdd.
Moving to pc gaming again just awaiting those gfx prices to lower.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 953   +1,765
This is kind of bad for them: yes they sold the most of a new console faster than ever with the PS5 but we know they're not making any money from that.

For them to work as a business, they need to convert all those people into their "ecosystem" with added services they pay monthly for so the fact that they aren't succeeding there is kind of a major issue now: we *know* is not that the pandemic left folk without money: they couldn't have afforded to buy the PS5 in record times if that was the case. They're just not doing a good enough job to either persuade or force people into monthly payments.

This probably means higher ups will re-think the entire "launch a great physical console at a loss per unit" strategy in the future.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
This is kind of bad for them: yes they sold the most of a new console faster than ever with the PS5 but we know they're not making any money from that.

For them to work as a business, they need to convert all those people into their "ecosystem" with added services they pay monthly for so the fact that they aren't succeeding there is kind of a major issue now: we *know* is not that the pandemic left folk without money: they couldn't have afforded to buy the PS5 in record times if that was the case. They're just not doing a good enough job to either persuade or force people into monthly payments.

This probably means higher ups will re-think the entire "launch a great physical console at a loss per unit" strategy in the future.
People buy their consoles to play games. No subscription means they are buying digital games on the store or disc versions. Do you think people buy a console and no games?

They probably earn more from people buying standalone games anyway. I doubt they care much. If they did, they would not have raised the price. Obviously some people will stop subscribing when price go up.

If you look at all AAA games sales numbers, Playstation outsells Xbox with ease every single time. The biggest platform by far. PS4 outsold Xbox One like 4 to 1. Microsoft did not even want to tell sales numbers in the end, only SHIPPED numbers, why do you think? Tons of Xbox One's probably still collecting dust in warehouses around the world. Even tho they were cheaper than PS4 they did not sell well.

I was offered a Xbox One X for 100 bucks (US dollars) but I said no thanks. This was like 1 year after release. I have zero reason to own one since all games are on PC anyway (and plays better, have mod support, are cheaper). I see no benefit from owning a Xbox console. It plays PC games, nothing else, as in No Exclusives.

Playstation 4 and Switch both have true exclusives. Xbox One does not. Both outsold Xbox One. Coincidence? Nah.
 
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Kosmoz

Posts: 382   +687
I only care about great AAA single player games on either on PC or on PS. A lot of them are on PS, though.

Don't care about PS Plus or GP, or cloud or any other service.

Maybe I'm not alone in this demographic...
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
People buy their consoles to play games, not to collect dust with them.

They probably earn more from people buying standalone games.

If you look at all AAA games sales numbers, Playstation outsells Xbox with ease. The biggest platform by far.
Sony takes 30% so if a user buys 3 full price games in a year Sony takes more money from the user than they do with PSN. But the models are changing, in the future everyone will be on subscription services and owning games will be something dad did when he was young. hopefully this will prompt Sony to compete with Xbox because right now Xbox game pass is a far better and cheaper solution for most. I also hope Nintendo would offer something similar as their first party games are outstanding but I doubt it.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 953   +1,765
People buy their consoles to play games. No subscription means they are buying digital games on the store or disc versions. Do you think people buy a console and no games?

They probably earn more from people buying standalone games anyway. I doubt they care much. If they did, they would not have raised the price. Obviously some people will stop subscribing when price go up.

If you look at all AAA games sales numbers, Playstation outsells Xbox with ease every single time. The biggest platform by far. PS4 outsold Xbox One like 4 to 1. Microsoft did not even want to tell sales numbers in the end, only SHIPPED numbers, why do you think? Tons of Xbox One's probably still collecting dust in warehouses around the world. Even tho they were cheaper than PS4 they did not sell well.

I was offered a Xbox One X for 100 bucks (US dollars) but I said no thanks. Zero reason to own one since all games are on PC platform (plays better, mod support, cheaper).

Xbox is more like a poor mans PC platform.
I don't disagree with you at all. I am just talking from the perspective that Sony most likely has which is transform a one time purchase into a subscription.

Otherwise they would have never started their "Plus" service or whatever they call it.

EDIT: just to elaborate a bit more on this point: Is not that the model you are describing doesn't works, it works: Person buys cheap console, lots of games, companies make their money with game sales shared profits.

The problem is that modern gaming corporations don't just want to make money, they want to make all of the money. It's why so many companies are not happy with just selling lots of games: they want to sell microtransactions, dlc season passes, loot boxes on full games you paid for, etc. They no longer want a one off purchase type of customer they want someone who's constantly paying them.

Hardware vendors are not immune to this mentality: They don't just want you to be on their platform, they want to monetize their platform as much as they can: Plus premium services, remote and cloud services, etc. They'll try really, really hard to push all people into giving them money directly every month too, not just from console and from game sales.
 
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Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 527   +786
Ever since Rocket League became F2P (a year ago), I did not renew my annual PS Plus subscription (in November). That's my reasoning :p
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
Sony takes 30% so if a user buys 3 full price games in a year Sony takes more money from the user than they do with PSN. But the models are changing, in the future everyone will be on subscription services and owning games will be something dad did when he was young. hopefully this will prompt Sony to compete with Xbox because right now Xbox game pass is a far better and cheaper solution for most. I also hope Nintendo would offer something similar as their first party games are outstanding but I doubt it.

Maybe, maybe not. AAA price went up to 80 dollars on both PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

You will never see all brand new games on a subscription service. If you did, it would be too expensive for most people...

Game Pass mainly consists of old games with some newer ones (mainly from Microsoft owned studios but it's the bare minimum version of the game, as in lacks DLC in most cases which can be bought on the side.

There's 0 games on Game Pass that I would like to play right now. Zero.

Playstation Store sells WAY MORE than Xbox Store in terms of digital sales.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
Maybe, maybe not. AAA price went up to 80 dollars on both PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

You will never see all brand new games on a subscription service. If you did, it would be too expensive for most people...

Game Pass mainly consists of old games with some newer ones (mainly from Microsoft owned studios but it's the bare minimum version of the game, as in lacks DLC in most cases which can be bought on the side.

There's 0 games on Game Pass that I would like to play right now. Zero.

Playstation Store sells WAY MORE than Xbox Store in terms of digital sales.
Ok you do sound like you’re fanboying for Sony quite hard here. So much so that it appears to have warped what you think is the truth. There are actually quite a lot of new games that come to game pass, off the top of my head Microsoft flight simulator, gears of war etc. You also get EA play and there are quite a lot of games on that too. Most Xbox exclusives have promised to come to game pass, including Bethesdas games, which will cost $70 each on the PS5.

I don’t own an Xbox or a PS but I do subscribe to game pass for my PC and the selection it offers is outstanding at this point. Claiming you don’t want to play any games on the store just makes you look like a petulant child, there are plenty of games on there for everyone. Just earlier I was playing the ascent. A brand new release which I wouldn’t have bothered with if I had to buy it that actually turned out to be quite good. That is the best thing about game pass, you can try a lot of games you wouldn’t otherwise try.

But mate, no need to get too upset, Sony will have no choice but to offer a competing subscription service if they want to keep users on their platform. Hopefully they will make that available on PC too so people like me don’t have to waste money on sub standard console hardware.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
Ok you do sound like you’re fanboying for Sony quite hard here. So much so that it appears to have warped what you think is the truth. There are actually quite a lot of new games that come to game pass, off the top of my head Microsoft flight simulator, gears of war etc. You also get EA play and there are quite a lot of games on that too. Most Xbox exclusives have promised to come to game pass, including Bethesdas games, which will cost $70 each on the PS5.

I don’t own an Xbox or a PS but I do subscribe to game pass for my PC and the selection it offers is outstanding at this point. Claiming you don’t want to play any games on the store just makes you look like a petulant child, there are plenty of games on there for everyone. Just earlier I was playing the ascent. A brand new release which I wouldn’t have bothered with if I had to buy it that actually turned out to be quite good. That is the best thing about game pass, you can try a lot of games you wouldn’t otherwise try.

But mate, no need to get too upset, Sony will have no choice but to offer a competing subscription service if they want to keep users on their platform. Hopefully they will make that available on PC too so people like me don’t have to waste money on sub standard console hardware.

Fanboy? Nah I could not care less about consoles or what Microsoft earns.

I simply look at numbers and Sony wins bigtime over Microsoft in terms of console sales and digital sales from the stores.

All stores these days pretty much allows you to cancel your buy and get your money back, so you can try the games on all platforms.

Windows Store / Game Pass on PC is a bad joke. Which is why it's getting rebuilt ground up for Windows 11. Garbage.

Exclusives is what sells consoles, and this is why Sony and Nintendo dominate Microsoft completely. Xbox is considered a joke in most countries outside of US. Fact, google it.

Once again, tried Game Pass 3 times. Sucked hard all 3 times and was not worth paying for. Could not care less about this crap.

Flight Simulator was a borefest when I tried it. Halo series was a joke. Both were uninstalled after 30 minutes :joy: so yeah, I prefer Quality over Quantity I guess.
 
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Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
Fanboy? Nah I could not care less about consoles or what Microsoft earns.

I simply look at numbers and Sony wins bigtime over Microsoft in terms of console sales and digital sales from the store.

All stores these days pretty much allows you to cancel your buy.

Windows Store on PC is a joke when it comes to game pass. Which is why it's getting rebuilt ground up for Windows 11.

Exclusives is what sells consoles, and this is why Sony and Nintendo dominate Microsoft completely.
I do agree that the windows store is awful. But it’s not difficult to use. My friends 11 year old kid manages just fine. If you’re struggling then I pity you.

And yes Sony beats Microsoft in overall sales right now as you keep mentioning. I don’t know why you keep mentioning this, no one has disputed it. It’s irrelevant as we are talking about subscriber counts. Not sales.

However, MS dumps all over Sony with game pass as it is a far far better solution than any service Sony currently offers. And this might be why the user count for Sony is falling. Sony might be on top now but if they don’t pull their finger out then they might fall behind. It happened before.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
I do agree that the windows store is awful. But it’s not difficult to use. My friends 11 year old kid manages just fine. If you’re struggling then I pity you.

And yes Sony beats Microsoft in overall sales right now as you keep mentioning. I don’t know why you keep mentioning this, no one has disputed it. It’s irrelevant as we are talking about subscriber counts. Not sales.

However, MS dumps all over Sony with game pass as it is a far far better solution than any service Sony currently offers. And this might be why the user count for Sony is falling. Sony might be on top now but if they don’t pull their finger out then they might fall behind. It happened before.

Game Pass is a joke in my eyes. Has zero content worth playing. Old dated games or snoozefest / failed games. Why do you think they come to game pass? Why do you think it's cheap? Logic 101.

PS5 is already outselling Xbox Series X and S with ease, even tho PS5 pretty much can't be bought because demand is high. I can go to a store right now and pick up a Xbox Series X, demand is low.
 

adisoftcafe

Posts: 51   +29
Xbox is relevant only in US. Nobody cares about Xbox and Gamepass in Europe. PC people get Gamepass? Why? What to play? Sea of Thieves?
Why are Xbox guys hyping so much Gamepass? You've never played a game on Xbox? It is full of old games. You've played nothing in the last 10-12 years?
But it has Gears 5!! It is 9 usd on Cdkeys/G2a.
Halo 5 - 6 usd
Forza 4 - 18 usd.

If you've got gamepass for 1 usd it is ok. but 15 usd for this? :))))

Of course on PSN numbers are lower now. People went back to work. It is normal.

And to defend Xbox now. Stop saying that games are on pc. If someone is a console player, he doesn't care if the game is on pc.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
EA Play is an even bigger joke than Game Pass, no wonder is was included for free. It has nothing worth playing, all decent stuff was moved up a tier and not included in EA Play / Game Pass.

Once again, why would I not subscribe if it was WORTH IT? It's simply not. I have access til ALL THE GAMES already and you are downloading inferior versions of the games thru Microsoft Store.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,661   +4,140
A price increase and a drought of big titles on the service have a lot to do with it. Used to be you'd get games like TLOU, uncharted, motorstorm, ece for free. Now it's basic fortnite stuff or some 8 year old AAA game. Paying a higher price is not on the table.

The last few years sony hasnt put out much outside of HZD and spiderman. TloU2 pulled a TLJ and pissed off a good number of the fanbase, uncharted 4 was a wet fart, god of war was decent but felt very "dad game" compared to the first three. killzone has been MIA for awhile, ratchet and clank FINALLY got a new game, no new motorstorm since the PS3, the list goes on. Without a big third party AAA game sony doesnt have anything to offer anymore.