PS5 is fully stocked for first time and on track for record sales this year, top Sony exec says

The PlayStation DualSense controller and PlayStation 5 console.

Jakub Porzycki | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The PlayStation 5 is fully stocked in stores around the world and will hit Sony’s sales target of 25 million units for the year, an executive at the company told CNBC exclusively.

“This holiday season is the first holiday season we will be fully stocked on PlayStation 5 in every geography,” Eric Lempel, Sony’s head of business operations said in an interview earlier this week.

That comes after a series of successive console shortages, because of which many players around the world were unable to get their hands on PS5 units. Poor supply volumes linked to the global chip shortage and supply chain disruptions greatly limited the availability of PS5, and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and S.

The PS5 and Xbox Series X were notoriously hard to find in stores after their November 2020 launch. Sony, for its part, has struggled to meet demand for the PS5, facing supply shortages each year following the PS5’s release.

But that’s now over, according to Lempel, and this will be the first year in which PS5 is at full capacity at Sony, retailers, and other distribution partners around the world ahead of the holidays.

“We launched back in 2020,” Lempel told CNBC. “We suffered from the same supply chain issues that everybody was dealing with. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to deliver PS5 to ever consumer that wanted one.”

Sony had set itself a target of 25 million PS5 units shipped throughout 2023. That would make it the best year for any PlayStation machine in history.

Lempel said the company was on track to meet that target this year and expects “record-breaking sales,” thanks to the rebalancing of supply and demand and demand for titles like the newly released Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, which is exclusive to PS5.

Sony next reports earnings on Nov. 9.

Eyes on the competition

Sony’s popular PS5 device has already sold millions — and outstripped Microsoft’s Xbox Series X in terms of demand.

Microsoft is betting big on gaming becoming a more integral part of its business. That’s why the Redmond, Washington-based firm paid so much to buy Activision Blizzard.

In a $69 billion deal that has finally been agreed, Activision will be sold to Microsoft, with blockbuster titles such as “Call of Duty,” “Candy Crush” and “Crash Bandicoot” now being added to its Xbox gaming division.

Rival firms, not least Sony, had worried that this could hamper competition if Microsoft were to make games like Call of Duty exclusive to its Xbox platform. Call of Duty is a multibillion-dollar-making gaming franchise.

However, cloud gaming rights, which relate to the streaming of video games via remote data centers, will be sold to French publisher Ubisoft.

Ubisoft will own the cloud rights to Call of Duty and give people the ability to stream the game on its Ubisoft+ subscription platform after a compromise with U.K. regulators to satisfy them on the competition implications of the deal.

Sony had raised alarm at the negative impact of the Microsoft-Activision deal many times, at one point even warning that it may lead to hampered game quality on PlayStation consoles if Microsoft opts to undermine the programming in any way.

For its part, Microsoft said it has no intention to do so and that the Activision deal will be good for competition.

On the hunt for partnerships

Addressing a CNBC question on whether Sony needs to do anything in response to Microsoft’s move to catch up in the intellectual property land grab that’s been going on in gaming, Lempel said Sony is constantly on the hunt for new developer partners to build exclusive titles for PS5.

But, he added, attempts to build out Sony’s growing catalogue of first-party games further may not always mean acquisitions, stressing its interest in partnerships.

“We have a number of ways of looking at this,” Lempel said, adding that “in terms of great content, that’s where we’re focused.”

“We’ve done more M&A [mergers and acquisitions] in the past decade than we’ve ever done,” he said. “We’re always looking to work with new partners, whether that’s somebody as an external provider … or working with a developer along with the way and then acquiring them later.”

Lempel cited Insomniac Games, which developed the Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise at PlayStation, as a good example of this strategy. Insomniac was earlier a partner to Sony, making games for its PlayStation platform, but it became more integrated with Sony before the Japanese tech titan later decided to buy the firm outright.

The company’s Spider-Man 2 game sold more than 2.5 million copies in its first 24 hours, making it the fastest-selling PlayStation Studios game in history for a 24-hour period.

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