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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.