The long-term health of PlayStation 5 is reportedly under threat from scalpers, a new report has claimed.
Sony was already facing challenges satisfying demand for the product, but shortages have been exacerbated by scalpers reselling large quantities of the console at significant mark-ups, keeping it out of the hands of consumers and in turn damaging pivotal software sales.
The knock-on effect is an unusually low software attach rate in Japan, Bloomberg reports. As noted by the publication, a healthy ratio for a new console is around one game sold for each console bought.
But based on Japanese sales data from Famitsu, Sony sold around 213,000 PS5 consoles in the product’s first month of availability and just 63,000 physical games, meaning consumers have bought less than one packaged game for every three consoles purchased.
Lucrative software sales are particularly important at the start of a console’s lifecycle when the hardware is sold at a loss, Bloomberg added.
There are other factors that could be impacting early physical PS5 software sales, most notably the shift to digital. In Sony’s last fiscal year, digital software sales accounted for 55% of total PS4 software sales, and they represented an even greater percentage of the total in the first half of the current fiscal year.
PS5 also comes pre-installed with a game, Astro’s Playroom, and is backwards compatible with PS4 titles.
“Even if we consider digital download software purchases, the percentage of sold PlayStation 5s actually in use is not that high, meaning the current demand is constrained by profit-taking resellers,” according to Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute.
Another analyst told Bloomberg that consumers’ inability to acquire the console and the resulting hit on software sales could negatively impact the profitability of the PlayStation business over the coming years.
PlayStation 5 at retail
“The PlayStation 5 could miss a critical chance to get into a good hardware-software upward spiral,” said Kazunori Ito of Morningstar Research. “The peak of the platform will likely be low and the platform’s total revenue earned won’t be as strong as we hoped for.”
Bloomberg even claims that a major Japanese publisher has internally discussed the possibility of delaying its PS5 games based on concerns it has about the early market response to the console.
The publication also reiterated previous claims it made that Sony is experiencing PS5 production issues related to its main, custom-designed processor – claims Sony previously labelled “false”.
Sony still expects to sell over 7.6 million PS5 units by the end of its fiscal year on March 31, 2021, outperforming PS4’s launch, but it will have less consoles available than previously targeted, according to Bloomberg’s sources.
“While we do not release details related to manufacturing, nothing unexpected has happened since PlayStation 5 mass production has started and we have not changed the production number for PS5,” a Sony spokesman said in response.
A recent study shone some light on the extent of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S resale market, with scalpers reportedly making over $28 million in next-gen console profits through eBay alone as of December 1.
This week a group of British MPs called for legislation to prevent PS5 and Xbox Series X/S scalpers from reselling consoles for “vast profits” and to outlaw the resale of goods purchased using automated bots that circumvent retail queues.