Sony game division loses $890 million, PS3 sales hit 35.7 million

[UPDATE] PS3 sells 13M consoles during fiscal year, LTD PS3 game sales hit 290.5M; PSP sales fall to 9.9M; PS2 drops to 7.3M; overall losses hit $435.6M; $536.4M profit forecast for current fiscal year.

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On Monday, Sony credited "improved performance" in its games business as having helped reduce its annual red ink. Today, the electronics giant reported that the division encompassing Sony Computer Entertainment still posted a massive loss during its last fiscal year.

Sony met its once-unlikely annual goal of 13 million PS3s sold.
Sony met its once-unlikely annual goal of 13 million PS3s sold.

Early this morning, Sony issued its final results for the 12 months ending March 31, 2010. Its overall shortfall was slightly less than indicated in Monday's guidance revision, with the electronics giant posting an annual loss of ¥40.66 billion ($435.6 million) on revenues of ¥7.214 trillion ($77.28 billion). That was an improvement on the ¥98.59 billion ($1.05 billion) loss it posted a year prior, although revenues fell from ¥7.730 trillion ($82.84 billion). The loss was also $316.4 million less than the ¥70 billion ($752 million) deficit it had predicted in February.

Sony had partially staunched the financial hemorrhaging in its Networked Products & Services division, into which Sony Computer Entertainment was folded last year. The sector saw revenues drop 10.2 percent from ¥1.76 trillion ($188.6 billion) the year prior to ¥1.58 trillion ($169.4 billion), but also saw operating losses trimmed from ¥87.4 billion ($938.6 million) to ¥83.1 billion ($890 million).

PSP sales were down by 4.2 million units, despite the introduction of the PSP Go.
PSP sales were down by 4.2 million units, despite the introduction of the PSP Go.

"Game sales decreased due to unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates and decreases in unit sales of PSP hardware and of PS2 software, although unit sales of PS3 software increased," the company said. It added, "Despite PS3 hardware cost reductions and increased unit sales of PS3 software, profitability deteriorated primarily due to lower unit sales of PS2 software and of PSP hardware."

Sony did achieve its long-standing annual sales goal of 13 million PS3s sold--half of which were sold in the fourth quarter--up from 10.1 million the year prior. PSP sales were sharply down, however, falling from 14.1 million to 9.9 million year-on-year despite last October's introduction of the streamlined PSP Go. Sales of the nearly 10-year-old PS2 slipped from 7.9 million to 7.3 million.

[UPDATE] Sony has since published figures that revealed the PlayStation 3 has sold 35.7 million hardware units worldwide to date. That's 4.3 million less than the 40 million Xbox 360s sold as of March 31 and 35.3 million less than the 71 million Wiis sold as of that date. Some 290.5 million PS3 games were sold worldwide through March 31, including last fiscal year's first-party titles MAG, God of War III, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.

Sony said that lifetime sales of the PSP--including the PSP Go--now total 61.5 million units, with 144.5 million PS2s having been bought worldwide since it went on sale in 2000. Sony did not offer lifetime software sales figures for the platforms, but during the past fiscal year, 35.7 million PS2 games and 44.4 million PSP games were sold globally.

The Networked Products & Services division also includes Sony's VAIO computer business. Sales of the Sony-branded, Microsoft Windows-running PCs increased in the fourth quarter--as did PS3 sales--but were down overall for the year as well.

For the current fiscal year, Sony expects to post an overall ¥50 billion ($536.4 million) profit on ¥7.6 trillion ($81.5 billion) in revenue. The company said it expects an increase in VAIO computer sales and an "improvement in the results of the game business" to cut--but not eliminate--the Networked Products & Services division's annual operating loss.

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