Aug 11, 2022 - Technology

PlayStation sales migrate from big cities, following pandemic pattern

Illustration of a PS5 controller and moving boxes in the bed of a pixellated truck.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Sales of PlayStation products have migrated along with the U.S. population, out of large metro areas to smaller cities, according to a Sony executive who believes the migration is tied to pandemic-related population shifts.

Why it matters: One way to understand what has happened in the country over the past few years is to see where people are buying stuff.

  • But input on that topic from the games industry — as opposed to, say, Shake Shack — is surprising.
  • Game companies are stingy about publicly announcing sales performance in individual countries, let alone sharing insights about movement in U.S. states.

What they’re saying: “There is a geographic shift in sales,” said Sony Interactive Entertainment’s director of business insights Doug Evans, in a webinar with the logistics firm Alloy late last month that has not been previously reported.

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

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” that took increases in 33 other cities to fill. (It was unclear if “New York” means Manhattan; Sony didn’t reply to a request for comment on this story.)
  • ⬆️ This contrasts with an increase in sales in smaller metro areas, “places like Fayetteville and Memphis and Jacksonville and a lot of small cities in Florida and Texas and so on.”

Those shifts match the U.S. Census Bureau’s reports on population migration from 2019 to 2021.

  • The New York and Chicago areas both made the top 10 U.S. regions with the largest domestic migration to other parts of the country.
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida, both made the census' list of regions with the largest net domestic migration.

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

  • It still plays a big role in physical retail, though, through the sale of consoles, controllers and other devices that just can't be downloaded, no matter your bandwidth speeds.

Sign up for the Axios Gaming newsletter here.

Go deeper