Sony Corporation recently released their financial statements for the previous fiscal year, and as they had warned, the results are abysmal. The company suffered a net loss of almost $1.2 billion, with most of their consumer electronic divisions bleeding in the red.

Despite restructuring and consolidation, Sony is still unable to find a way for most of its divisions to become profitable. Their PC division has been losing money at such a high rate that Sony has announced they will be selling their computer business to a Japanese investment firm, but in the meantime they are losing money through a glut of unwanted inventory.

The few bright spots in their financial statements are around their entertainment offerings, with Pictures (Sony’s movie business) and Music both doing relatively well. They have also managed to succeed with their imaging business, as their consumer and professional digital cameras continue to earn a profit.

But what about PlayStation? 

With the launch of the PS4, and the continuing struggles of the PS Vita, Sony’s Game division posted a net loss of $78 million. This comes despite a 38% increase in revenue. The PS4 may be flying off the shelves, but launching a new console does not come cheaply, and profits from the system are not expected until at least sometime next year.

And the PS Vita?

Sales of the Vita continue to remain below expectations. Sony initially expected to sell at least 5 million units of its handheld in their FY13 (their fiscal year which goes from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014). Sony doesn’t release the exact figure of Vitas sold, but instead lumps them together with sales of the PSP and the Vita TV. Even still, the numbers are less than stellar.

The portable entertainment systems sold only 4.1 million units, which is down from the 7 million sold the prior year. Much of this is attributable to declining sales of the PSP and the failure of the Vita TV to catch on in Japan. Their forecast for the coming year has been lowered, and they now only expect to sell 3.5 million PS Vitas, along with the PSP and Vita TV.

Game Chart

This is not a good sign that the Vita TV will be headed to the West anytime soon, nor does it show that Sony is confident its fortunes are going to turn anytime soon. While it is possible that Sony is low-balling their forecast to lower expectations, it’s a sure bet that they don’t want to have to revise their forecast lower throughout the year. And when you compare these numbers against what the Nintendo 3DS is doing, things do look quite dark. Sales of Nintendo’s handheld performed almost 3x better and sold close to 12.2 million devices during the same time.

It’s not all bad news!

Yes, at first it looks like it’s all doom and gloom for our beloved PS Vita, but that isn’t the case. Let’s be optimistic for a moment and look at the bright side of things.

First, while Games suffered an operating loss last year, Sony did not attribute any of it to the PS Vita. In fact, the main factors given were the launch of the PS4 (again, which is an expensive thing to do) and write downs for various games from Sony Online Entertainment. It appears that despite its small market share and difficulties with retail, the Vita is not a money-loser for Sony. And compared to its other divisions, sometimes not losing money is enough.

Secondly, there is still plenty of support for the Vita. The number of games currently being developed for the system is rather large and continues to grow every day. We recently reported that SCEE’s Vita evangelist Shahid Ahmad’s team has over 60 games in the pipeline with dozens more coming. Vita owners will not suddenly find themselves starved for games to play. The device, despite the hole’s in its library, has a wealth of terrific content available with more on the way.

And lastly, while the Vita’s sales numbers are nowhere close to the 3DS, they do look rather good when compared to Nintendo’s Wii U sales. Last year Nintendo only sold 2.7 million units of its new-gen system, which makes the 4.1 million Vita sales look rather grand (though you need to subtract the PSP and Vita TV sales, which are probably just a small fraction of the overall number).

There is still time for the Vita’s fortunes to turn around. As we’re constantly reminded, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.

  • Rodolfo Ferreira

    Everyone saw it coming, because everyone knew the PS4 came out too early. If things could be any different, before this whole ‘next gen’ BS, I could see Vita and PS3 coexisting through cross-play and Sony could even manage dev studio workforce shared between the two platforms. But then microsoft runs their mouth anticipating their next gen console, Sony has to catch up and then…the ps4 takes place.
    No more Vita momentum, no more Vita promises (it wasn’t that many to start with…) and no Vita-PS4 bundle. Just when you don’t expect things to get even worse, Sony messes with us with their LIES, hiding PS1 classics from Vita adopters, killing a selling-point of the handheld.
    On top of that, their treatment sometimes exceeds their own ignorance (PS4: “Uh yes, we’ve heard the community and now the DriveClub game will not charge you any extra cost”; No more PS1 Classics on Vita through Download manager: no comment) not to mention there’s no SEQUENCE to early games (anyone saw a new Need for Speed, Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted around, please stop me), no ads, Unity fully supports the Vita and yet Sony DOES-NOT-SAY-A-WORD-ABOUT-IT to ANY developer. Their Borderlands 2 Vita 2000 bundle is now the media’s favorite target so it’s being knocked down and labeled ‘mediocre’ by IGN. Since it was sold by the Vita, Sony has the moral priority to reply back to the negative reviews.
    After all, they should stand by their games and defend a product wich came out recently. That means they’re protecting and supporting the Vita and its games. Can you picture their same behavior, in case the platform in the matter was the PS4?
    After reading all this, do you think Sony really want to support the Vita?

  • Carl

    PS Vita’s future looks somewhat grim. I love my Vita, but Sony does not what it should to in order to save it, and I mean an appropriate marketing (at least there are the endless indies announcements, with many great games among them).

    The big AAA productions are almost gone (no new Assassin’s Creed or Uncharted, for example), Borderlands 2 seems to be botched fom what I hear, and marketing is non existent. In contrast, last year Soul Sacrifice was hyped for a long time and proved to be a great game and a successful one. Now we have a very interesting game like Freedom Wars with nearly no marketing and no info about a western release, and Soul Sacrifice Delta arrived stealthily on the PS Store and quite no one knew. After the 2nd wave of big 1st party games (Tearaway, Killzone Mercenary), there is seemingly nothing more coming (only rumors about a Gravity Rush sequel). I dare to dream what great games studios like Naughty Dog could develop for the handheld. Instead, all we hear about big games is “you can play X game via PS4 Remote Play (or later via PS Now) on your Vita”. Shame.

    I want to believe that we ‘ll hear some good Vita news later at E3, or at even at Gamescom or the Tokyo Games Show, but it’s likely Sony will give everything i has for a big PS4 push and little Vita news.

  • nonscpo

    The numbers certainly are discouraging, but I’m not surprised the vita became a niche device and for now that’s were it will remain for some time. I for one am happy with the current flow of game librarys as I never expected AAA games to come out consistently, if anything I expected to get burried with ports. For now its indie and mid-tier localized games and from that well have to settle for the short term. Will be looking forward to Gravity Rush 2 and Freedom wars, the vita is a cell-shaded gaming beast and im loving it.

  • Kurisu Makise

    To be honest I feel this article doesn’t really contain any actual news regarding the PS Vita bit. Information about Vita’s profitability, was already made present here: http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2011/06/09/playstation-vita-will-be-profitable-on-day-one/ more or less Day 1 we knew that information. The citing of support is not from the article at all but rather through Shahid, which…does not provide any incite as to the kind of software present in the list of 60 games, including any potential big hitters/sales movers, that actually will help to expand the platforms userbase. As admitted by another article on Vita lounge which is cited, thee is indeed many holes in the library, which actually go to showcase the poor support Vita receives and…the token of doing “better” than another failing platform is in no way news worthy. Truth of the matter is, there was no real PS Vita news from the financial information, other than the whole PS Business being down due to the launch of the PS4.

  • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

    I agree with Carl and Rodolfo. I love my Vita, but aside from indies, they seem to be doing bugger all to try and save it. From the “console on the go” claims, now it’s being seen as an indie and remote play device. Now I know it’s certainly not all roses with Nintendo, but look at the 3DS. When sales were poor they slashed the price massively, ran a multi million advert campaign all over tv and pushed out several high profile, first party title. And it worked! Sony needs to cut the price again (maybe even to a break even level, at least for now), at LEAST half the Vita card prices, or bundle in 16GB minimum and get their AAA in house devs to start pushing out some amazing, must have exclusives. Tearaway was amazing, but too niche for a lot of people and Killzone is a great franchise but not really a huge system seller (though it did seem to help PS4).

    Get an exclusive GTA. Get Gran Turismo. Resident Evil. Another Uncharted that isn’t full of gimmicks. Exclusive Final Fantasy. Hell, get exclusive any huge franchise and don’t put Nyhilistic in the dev seat. Just do something, because the point of no return seems to be getting closer by the day. I want Vita to succeed but I feel like Sony really isn’t trying. The fact that they appear to have all but deserted it in the media does NOT instill confidence to potential buyers. We know it’s a great system but FFS Sony! Do SOMETHING! ANYTHING!

    Ahem, rant over.

    • Shady Shariest

      Nintendo has extremely strong first party. Pokemon alone moves units… Sony does not have that, which should be taken to account.

      • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

        Actually Sony has many great first party studios. Although I admit Sony really lacks the strength of mascots that Nintendo has, but still, some exclusives from Sony would definitely have helped.

        • Shady Shariest

          Yupo. I kinda wish more devs would look at games like Tearaway and say: “That… Is a fun idea. How could i/we do that?”

          • Jonathan Harding-Rathbone

            Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, Guerrilla, Insomniac (franchise wise at least), Polyphony Digital, lots more but just woke up so can’t think.

          • Shady Shariest

            Ah yes. Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch. Only familiar devs for me.