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PlayStation Plus subscribers have dropped by nearly 2 million users since the revamped service launched in June.
Despite the revamp, PS Plus subs declined for the third quarter in a row. The total number of subscribers stood at 45.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2022, down from 47.3 million in the previous quarter.
PlayStation Network monthly active users (MAUs) were also down during the three-month period at 102 million, a decline from 104 million a year earlier and 103 million in the previous quarter. This appears to be Sony’s lowest MAUs figure since it began reporting this data in early 2020.
However, despite the decline in subscribers, Sony’s Network services revenue – which encompasses PS Plus and advertising (but not game purchases or add-on content) – actually increased by 10%, from ¥106 billion to ¥116 billion, which represents its best performance to date for a quarter.
That means Sony’s gaming division is making more money per subscriber than it was before, potentially reflecting the uptake of the more expensive subscription tiers introduced by PS Plus.
Asked about the decline in an earnings call on Tuesday (transcribed by VGC), Sony’s CFO Hiroki Totoki blamed declining third-party game and PlayStation 4 sales and ‘more people going outdoors’.
“There have been a declining number of members of PlayStation Plus,” he said. “However, in the second quarter we renewed our services and there hasn’t been a great momentum as a whole. Also, we didn’t make aggressive promotions during the second quarter.
“Therefore, in the future we are going to have more penetration on PS5 and we are going to have very good titles. In addition, we are able to make better promotions and we think we are able to recover.”
He added in a reply to another investor about the PS Plus figures: “More people are now going outdoors, and we have yet to get out of the negative cycles. PS4 and third-party software sales have also been rather sluggish, and sales of catalogue titles have also been declining.
“Against that, PS5 engagement is quite high, so in Q3 we expect some recovery. We have strong titles from first-party, and we have some seasonal effects. So, in Q3 we can see some recovery from the downturn trend – that’s our expectation.”
Sony has published an additional statement on the decline in PS Plus subscribers, claiming that it was influenced by “a greater decline in user engagement among PlayStation 4 (PS4) users than expected”.
“The number of PlayStation Plus subscriber accounts at the end of September decreased 4% from the end of June to 45.4 million accounts. We see that this decrease results from a greater decline in user engagement among PlayStation 4 (PS4) users than expected.
“On the other hand, the ratio of PS Plus subscribers among PlayStation 5 (PS5) users remains at a level significantly higher than that of PS4. We are putting even more effort into accelerating the penetration of PS5 hardware to recover this user engagement going forward.”
On the subject of large third-party releases, Sony referenced Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and said it was having “a good release”, therefore “for the third quarter we do have very high expectations.”
The revamped PlayStation Plus service launched in June with the addition of premium tiers, which added a library of hundreds of modern and classic games.
Sony previously attributed declining user and subscriber figures to the boost provided by stay-at-home restrictions during the pandemic. Compared to pre-pandemic (Q3 FY19), PS Plus subscribers have increased by over 6 million.