Sales of Switch and PS5 held back by chip shortages

Sony and Nintendo, reporting their financial results for the fiscal year ending March 2022, have both blamed shortages in semiconductor components for sales shortfalls in their flagship consoles.

Sony said it shipped 11.5 million PlayStation 5 consoles in the course of the financial year. This brought the total number of PS5s sold to 19.3 million, but it is still more than 3 million short of the most recent target the company set.

Meanwhile, Nintendo reported that combined sales of all three Switch consoles — Switch, Switch Lite and the new OLED model — were down 20% year-over-year. “Sales this fiscal year were affected by shortages of semiconductor components and other parts,” Nintendo said in its statement, although it also noted that “the March 2020 release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a major driver of hardware sales last fiscal year” — a reference to the huge sales boost that game received during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

The two companies gave rather different outlooks for the year ahead, however. Sony is optimistic, telling investors on the earnings call (as reported by VGC) that it felt “very comfortable” it could ramp up PS5 shipments to 18 million in the fiscal year ending March 2023, a considerable increase on this year’s performance. Certainly, consumer appetite to buy the consoles is there, if Sony can manage to build them.

Nintendo, however, said it expected sales and operating profits to be slightly down over the next 12-month period. Its statement to investors didn’t give an explicit reason for this. Reading between the lines, a slightly thin software line-up (featuring Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, but not the delayed sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) would seem to be the reason.

Switch’s age may be a factor, too. PS5 is still at the start of its journey, while Nintendo’s handheld hybrid is, realistically, past the midpoint of its lifespan, at the very least. If its extraordinary success story has peaked — sales of the console now stand at over 107 million — then we have reached the point at which Nintendo investors will start to ask what’s next.

No one will be in too much of a hurry to leave Switch behind, however. Nintendo noted in its report that Switch just had the biggest year ever for software sales on one of its platforms, in terms of units sold. And while it may not have had a hit the size of New Horizons, both Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl and Pokémon Legends: Arceus did very well, selling a combined 14.65 million and 12.64 million units respectively.

Sony reported strong game sales too, with sales in the last quarter almost doubling year-on-year, thanks to the releases of Horizon: Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7. PlayStation Plus subscribers and overall active users were down slightly as pandemic lockdowns eased across the world.

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