US PlayStation sales shift, matching pandemic population shifts

Sales of PlayStation products have migrated with the US population, from major metropolitan areas to small towns, according to a Sony executive who believes the migration is linked to population shifts related to the pandemic.

Why is this important: One way to understand what has happened in the country over the past few years is to see where people are buying things.

  • But the gaming industry’s comments on this topic – as opposed to, say, Shake Shack – are startling.
  • Game companies are stingy with publicly announcing sales performance in each country, let alone sharing information about movements in US states.

What they say : “There’s a geographic shift in sales,” said Sony Interactive Entertainment’s director of business intelligence, Doug Evans, in a webinar with the Alloy logistics company at the end of last month that has not been previously reported.

  • “I have to attribute that to migration because of the pandemic.”
  • Evans wasn’t necessarily talking about the PS5s here, which he says are flying off the shelves wherever Sony is able to store them.
  • But store-level tracking can still be useful for Sony to learn how accessories and other products are selling.

His findings: Evans said he compared PlayStation sales data from the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2022.

  • ⬇️ There was a “significant drop” in “New York, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Chicago and Miami” which required increases in 33 other cities to fill. (It was unclear if “New York” means Manhattan; Sony did not respond to a request for comment on this story.)
  • ⬆️ This contrasts with an increase in sales in smaller metropolitan areas, “places like Fayetteville and Memphis and Jacksonville and a lot of small towns in Florida and Texas and so on.”

These changes correspond to those of the US Census Bureau population migration reports from 2019 to 2021.

  • The New York and Chicago areas were both among the top 10 regions in the United States with the greatest internal migration to other parts of the country.
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida both made the list of census areas with the highest net inward migration.

The big picture: The games industry is increasingly digital, as gamers who once purchased games on discs show an increased preference for downloading them.

  • However, it still plays an important role in physical retail, selling consoles, controllers, and other devices that simply can’t be downloaded, no matter how fast your bandwidth is.

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