Sony PlayStation 4 sales surpass 5.3 million units

PS4 is beating Xbox One even before its launch in Japan

More then 5.3 million PlayStation 4 consoles have been sold worldwide as of Feb. 8, Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) said Tuesday, solidifying its lead over Microsoft's Xbox One.

PS4 was also the top-selling console in the U.S. in January, SCE said, citing data by NPD Group.

The announcement follows Sony reporting at CES last month that it had sold more than 4.2 million PS4 consoles as of Dec. 28, following its launch in November.

On Jan. 23, Microsoft said it had sold 3.9 million Xbox One consoles in the quarter to Dec. 31.

Sony beat its goal of selling 5 million PS4 consoles by the end of March even before its launch in Japan. The platform will finally go on sale in Sony's home territory Saturday.

The good news is badly needed at Sony, which earlier this month announced it expects a net loss of ¥110 billion (US$1.1 billion) for the year to the end of March, a reversal of its October forecast for net profit of ¥30 billion.

Sony is selling its struggling Vaio PC business to a Japanese investment firm and will restructure its loss-making TV unit. Some 5,000 jobs are also being cut.

"It's pretty clear that out of the gate, the PS4 has performed better than their own expectations," said IDC analyst Lewis Ward, research director for gaming.

"So at least cosmetically, it's going to be viewed as a positive first step and perhaps one of the most positive outcomes that Sony has seen in one of its core pillar businesses in the past few years."

The real payoff with the PS4 won't come for a few years, he added, because much of the profit in consoles comes in the latter half of their life cycles as component costs come down and the software downloads or discs sold rise as the install base grows.

If PlayStation history is any guide, the PS4 will also trounce Xbox One in the Japanese market, Ward suggested.

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