Both publishers and gamers often use sales to gauge the success of a platform, a game or a service, but Sony Computer Entertainment Japan and Asia President Hiroshi Kawano feels that there’s something more important than sales: creating more active users, as he explained as part of an interview on the Japanese website Inside Games.
For example, it’s hard to sell many units every week. The same goes for software. In the gaming industry, unit sales have been made into a big deal, but even if you sold 20,000 units all at once, it does not mean that your user base has increased by 20,000 people, since the same number of people could be leaving the game at the same time.
We run the PSN, and this also applies to network business. In this industry we don’t get a boost only by increasing the number of accounts. Since hardware launches regularly, how long is the opportunity [for customers] to actually play with the software? I believe that rather than simply comparing unit sales of games, we should instead focus on increasing the number of active players.
That’s actually quite spot on, especially looking at subscription services like PlayStation Plus and microtransactions, but even just to increase the customers’ engagement with a console. Selling more units is good, but creating active users that will stick with a game and a platform is better, and Sony Computer Entertainment seems to be trying to do just that, for instance with the extensive distribution of free DLCs for games like Soul Sacrifice.
As Hideki Kamiya said just yesterday, sales are only part of the picture.