Playstation 4: Half Of Owners Have PS Plus; Sony Upgrading PSN For Holidays

Sony took a bet on requiring a PlayStation Plus membership to play most games online with the PlayStation 4. That bet is paying off. The company revealed during an earnings call Thursday how many PS4 owners are buying into the concept of paying to play online.

Sony’s Games and Network Services division handles the PlayStation 4 and PS Plus. In a note about the division’s performance transcribed by Seeking Alpha, Sony said, “[M]ore than half of the people who have bought a PS4 have subscribed to PlayStation [Plus], our fee-based network service, and we see this trend continuing.”

This is much the same ratio of console ownership to premium service that Microsoft saw with the Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE Gold.

The PlayStation 4 is quickly approaching the 10 million units sold mark based on data provided by Sony in its 2014 fiscal first quarter results today. That means there are approximately 5 million consumers that subscribed to the $50 a year service that provides not just online play but access to a collection of games at no additional cost and special game sales. (Note: Free-to-play titles and MMOs are excluded from the PS Plus requirement to play online.)

“We have upwardly revised the full year operating income forecast for the segment by JPY 5 billion (approximately $5 million USD) due to the strong sales of PS4 and PS4 hardware cost reductions,” Sony added during the call to illustrate the strong performance of the console and PlayStation Network combo.

The rapid growth of the PS4 will only accelerate once the holiday shopping season hits. It’s not uncommon for gaming services like PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE strain under the sudden influx of new users. Sony Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida indicated that the company will be investing to build PSN out to support the extra users.

According to Yoshida, PSN supports almost 52 million users a month between the PS3 and PS4. Additionally, network traffic from the PlayStation 4 is two to three times more than its predecessor due to increased social functions like the streaming and sharing of gameplay videos.

Yoshida said, “[W]e are forecasting quite significant increase in the latter half of the year, during the year end season [ph] in November and December. So actually, investment in the Network side will be increased in the latter half of this fiscal year.”

With the PlayStation 4 outselling the Xbox One by a 3-to-1 margin or higher and driving Sony profits, the PS4 appears poised to run away from the competition. Do you think the Xbox One will be able to keep up? Let us know in the comments below.

[Image via Playstation]