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Poor sales for gaming division plague Sony

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Sony at E3 2012 (Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The length of this console life cycle continues to haunt Sony. The company saw a wider loss in its fiscal first quarter with poor PlayStation sales dragging the numbers down.

The games unit saw a notable decline in sales last quarter (from April 1 to June 30), selling 800,000 fewer hardware units and coming in at an operating loss of $45 million. Software sales were down as well. It was a discouraging performance for the division Sony is hoping will help guide the company out of its financial woes.

Rather than breaking out hardware sales by device, as it has traditionally done, Sony instead lumped the PS3 and PS2 together, which sold a combined 2.8 million units versus 3.2 million a year ago. The handheld Vita and PSP systems were also grouped, with sales of 1.4 million compared to 1.8 million in 2011.

On the games front, the company sold 20.1 million PS3 and PS2 games, 6.6 million fewer than the same period last year. Handheld software sales came in a 5.8 million, an 800,000 title shortfall.

The prolonged malaise has forced the company to lower its sales forecast for the PlayStation unit, saying operating income will be "significantly below" the original estimates.

That pronouncement seemingly signals a reduced confidence in the company's first-party lineup this holiday season. Many analysts still expect Sony to cut the price on the PlayStation 3 before the end of the year to goose sales.

While the gaming unit struggled, it wasn't entirely responsible for Sony's ¥24.64 billion ($314 million) loss. An ongoing restructuring at the company took a toll and the unit that oversees television operations lost ¥10 billion. The Mobile Products & Communications unit reported operating losses of ¥28.1 billion ($358.6 million).

Sony has been losing money for four solid years now.  Former PlayStation chief Kaz Hirai took over the company in April and has instituted a number of changes in an attempt to return the company to its once-strong position in the consumer electronics space.

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