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PlayStation 4 has its best year ever, but Sony predicts slowing sales

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Sony shipped 20 million PlayStation 4 consoles in its fiscal year ended March 31st, 2017, the company just announced as part of its earnings report. That’s the best number yet for the system, and brings it somewhere in the region of 60 million units shipped — Sony announced 40 million had been sold through last May and 50 million in December.

The games division was by far the best performer out of Sony’s traditional units throughout the fiscal year, reporting operating profit of 135.6 billion yen ($1.21 billion) off 1.65 trillion yen ($14.7 billion) in revenue. Sales were up 6.3 percent and profit increased by 52.9 percent.

2016 may be as good as it gets for PS4 hardware sales, however. Sony is expecting to ship 18 million in the current fiscal year, meaning that sales of the system might have peaked. That’s not particularly worrying news — by March 31st 2018 the PS4 will have been out for more than four years, well into the normal life cycle of a games console. And the PS4’s sales growth is actually still outpacing the PS2, which sold just over 71 million units after four years on the market and ended up selling more than 150 million after eleven.

It does, however, seem like it will be difficult for the PS4 to match that extended trajectory of the PS2, which benefited from a price cut to $129 in 2006. It was also more of a differentiated product than the PS4, which is based on traditional PC hardware that may not show similar endurance or capability for cost-cutting. (Sony has already seen fit to boost the PS4 by releasing a more powerful Pro model). But the PS4 userbase is incredibly strong already and still set to grow at a fairly steady rate, which puts Sony in a good position with new titles in its key Gran Turismo, God of War, Uncharted, and The Last of Us series still in the pipeline.