Why Sony believes 5 million PS4 shipments by April is reachable

CFO Masaru Kato says company is confident due to preorder figures being "much, much higher," as well as "strong support" from third-party developers.

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Sony plans to ship at least 5 million PlayStation 4 consoles by the end of its fiscal year on March 31, 2014. Giving the company confidence it can reach this milestone are healthy preorders for the system and "strong support" from third-party developers, Sony said on a recent earnings call.

"When we listen to consumers, when we listen to our retail partners and third-parties, one measure of our confidence is in the preorders that we have received from consumers," CFO Masaru Kato said. "I can't give a number. But compared to past platforms, the pre-orders that we have received for this new platform is much, much higher."

During the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo in June, Sony announced that PS4 preorders worldwide had exceeded 1 million units. The company later described reservation figures as "breathtakingly high." Kato said on the call this week that "most" preorders so far have included a reservation fee and not only adding their name to a list.

"And people have not just listed their names, but in some--in most cases, put down certain amount of money for these preorders," Kato said. "So that is one piece of information that we have in mind when we look towards the launch of this product."

Another factor that gives Sony confidence that it can reach 5 million PS4 shipments this fiscal year comes down to support from third-parties.

"The second would be that we have strong support from third-parties. And sometimes, when we launch a new platform, the software catalog is not sufficient, or after the launch, sometimes, you don't have good titles following the launch," Kato said. "But this year, on a comparative basis, I think we have a much more stronger lineup of software coming. So those are the things that we are looking at. But I cannot give you a number as to how much upside there is."

The PS4's 22-title launch lineup includes high-profile third-party games at launch like Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, NBA 2K14, Madden NFL 25, FIFA 14, Just Dance 2014, and Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Sony's 5 million unit forecast is on a sell-in basis, meaning the company plans to sell 5 million consoles to retailers, which may not necessarily reach consumers.

Microsoft has not disclosed Xbox One sales projections, though publisher Electronic Arts said it expects combined PS4 and Xbox One shipments at launch to reach 10 million units.

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