11/01/2023 - PIERS HARDING-ROLLS, LOUISE SHORTHOUSE
UK: PlayStation 5 owners most likely to use it as their primary console

Engagement between console brands underlines Sony’s ongoing strength

PlayStation 5 (disc version) owners in the UK are significantly more likely to treat it as their primary console compared to all other console owners, Q4 2022 consumer data indicates. With most gamers owning multiple consoles – often across brands – where these owners spend most of their gaming time, especially in the context of competing for engagement, is an important indicator of potential market share and brand strength. ‘Primary consoles’ will likely take a larger share of monetisation by gamers and securing high ‘primary console status’ has positive implications for the lifetime value of users.

It is perhaps less surprising that PS5 owners rank highly on this ‘primary console’ measure considering that Sony’s latest device is only just over two years old. Indeed, share of PS4 owners that consider their devices as their primary console has understandably dropped substantially since the launch of the PS5. Additionally, PS5 owners are more likely to be single console owners compared to Xbox Series owners and that partially contributes to this high score of 71%.

However, this does not fully explain the disparity in this measure between the PS5 disc-based version and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, it’s key competitor on the market, having launched at the same time. 48% of Xbox Series X owners play the most on that device, a similar amount to the current performance of Microsoft’s last-generation Xbox One/One S and Nintendo’s Switch. 

While adoption of both PS5 and Xbox Series X is still limited compared to last generation devices, it does suggest that Sony is well-positioned to continue its market share performance from previous generations even in the face of Microsoft’s Game Pass-focused strategy of the past few years. Ampere will be tracking this measure regularly to see if these devices start to converge as they become more established, and ownership overlap between the competing consoles becomes more significant.

Sony’s upper hand in exclusive content fuels PS5 usage

PlayStation has always had a healthy flow of exclusive content. In fact, Microsoft has stated that in 2021, PlayStation had nearly five times as many exclusive first- and third-party titles as Xbox: more than 280 games. The console market is far more crucial to Sony’s overall business than it is for Microsoft, and its investment in content is clearly keeping users continually engaged.

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass offering has proven very popular among consumers, and has redefined – and continues to shape – the games content subscription landscape, but it has not yet radically disrupted the usage dynamics of the UK console market it appears. Competing with Sony’s brand allegiance and content portfolio remains a challenge even with Microsoft’s first-party games entering Game Pass at launch. This has driven Microsoft to spend big on acquiring new sources of original IP and content to bolster its first-party output. It also underlines why Microsoft’s strategy to bring Xbox gaming to consumers beyond the console is so important to its ability to grow its games business and become more competitive. 


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