Sony Struggles to Meet Demand for PlayStation4

Sony Corp. (6758)’s PlayStation 4 sales are proving a bright spot for Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai, who is cutting costs to spur a revival at a company hit by falling demand for televisions and cameras.

Five months after its release, sales of the $399 video-game console surpassed 7 million units worldwide as of April 6, Tokyo-based Sony said yesterday in a statement. Shipments have outpaced rival Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Xbox One, which sold 4.2 million, according to an early April estimate from VGChartz.com.

Sales of the PS4 are proving demand remains viable for high-performance gaming in an era of cheap play on smartphones and tablet computers. Sony promised to cut $250 million in entertainment-unit costs and said yesterday it would sell its stake in game maker Square Enix (9684) Holdings Co. as Hirai seeks new hit products to capture a consumer shift to mobile devices.

“The consoles sales are a positive sign for Sony even though the overall electronics business is not performing well,” said Kazuyuki Terao, Tokyo-based chief investment officer at Allianz Global Investors Japan Co. “It is more important for other products in the electronics unit to recover.”

Sony fell 0.8 percent to 1,908 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo, while Japan’s benchmark Topix index was little changed. The company’s shares have gained 4.5 percent this year.

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

A customer holds a bag containing the Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. PlayStation 4 (PS4) video game console after purchasing at the Sony showroom in Tokyo. Close

A customer holds a bag containing the Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. PlayStation 4... Read More

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Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

A customer holds a bag containing the Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. PlayStation 4 (PS4) video game console after purchasing at the Sony showroom in Tokyo.

Share Sale

Sony agreed to sell its stake in Tokyo-based Square Enix to SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. for 15.3 billion yen ($150 million) and will book a 4.8 billion-yen gain on the sale in the first quarter, according to statements today and yesterday.

Square Enix, which has produced titles including “Dragon Quest,” rose 5.6 percent in Tokyo.

Software sales for the PlayStation 4, which is unable to play titles for its predecessors, are also rising. More than 20.5 million copies of games had been sold at retail stores and through digital downloads on Sony’s online store as of April 13, according to the statement.

Developers plan to release about 120 titles for the PlayStation 4 this year, Sony said.

“Although we are still facing difficulties keeping up with the strong demand worldwide, we remain steadfast in our commitment to meet the needs of our customers,” Andrew House, president and group chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment, said in the statement.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, has been discounting the $499 Xbox One to help bridge the price difference with Sony. A bundle including the Xbox One and the exclusive title “Titanfall” from Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) has been offered for $450 at retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

The researcher NPD Group Inc. plans to release monthly video game sales data today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net; Grace Huang in Tokyo at xhuang66@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robert Fenner at rfenner@bloomberg.net; Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net Aaron Clark, Terje Langeland

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