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Sony PS4 sales top 7 million mark

by Andy Fixmer and Grace Huang

Bloomberg

Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 sales are proving a bright spot for Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai, who is cutting costs to spur a revival at a company hit by falling demand for its televisions and cameras.

Sales of the $399 video-game console surpassed 7 million units worldwide as of April 6, five months after its release, Sony said Thursday in a statement from its Tokyo headquarters. Shipments have outpaced rival Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One, which had sold 4.2 million units, according to an early April estimate from VGChartz.com.

Sales of the PS4 are proving that demand remains viable for high-performance gaming in the era of cheap play on smartphones and tablet computers. Sony has promised to slash $250 million from its entertainment unit costs and on Thursday said it would sell its stake in game maker Square Enix Holdings Co. as Hirai seeks new hit products to capture a consumer shift to mobile devices.

“The consoles sales are a positive sign for Sony even though the overall electronics business is not performing well,” said Kazuyuki Terao, Tokyo-based chief investment officer at Allianz Global Investors Japan Co. “It is more important for other products in the electronics unit to recover.”

Sony agreed to sell its stake in Square Enix to SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. for ¥15.3 billion ($150 million) and will book a ¥4.8 billion gain on the sale in the first quarter, according to statements Wednesday and Thursday.

Square Enix, a game maker that has produced titles including “Dragon Quest,” rose as much as 8.3 percent in Tokyo trading.

Software sales for the PlayStation 4, which is unable to play titles designed for its predecessors, are also rising. More than 20.5 million copies of games have been sold at retail stores and through digital downloads on Sony’s online store as of April 13, according to the statements.

Developers plan to release about 120 titles for the PlayStation 4 this year, Sony said.

“Although we are still facing difficulties keeping up with the strong demand worldwide, we remain steadfast in our commitment to meet the needs of our customers,” Andrew House, president and group chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment, said in the statement.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, has been discounting the $499 Xbox One to help bridge the price difference with Sony. A bundle including the Xbox One and the exclusive title “Titanfall” from Electronic Arts Inc. has been offered for $450 at retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc.