TOKYO -- Sony Computer Entertainment led sales of video game systems for the first time in eight years in fiscal 2013, beating flagging compatriot Nintendo thanks to the successful launch of the PlayStation 4.
SCE sold a total of 18.7 million systems last fiscal year. It released the PS4 in the U.S. and other markets in November, and had moved nearly 7 million units through the end of March. Overall unit sales, including the PlayStation Vita portable game system, declined 20% on the year, but the PS4's launch helped to prop them up.
Nintendo's console sales slid 31% to 16.31 million units, as sales of the portable Nintendo 3DS system slumped and the new Wii U fared poorly. Microsoft's sales rose 16% to 11.6 million consoles thanks to the November rollout of the Xbox One in the U.S. and other markets.
The last time SCE topped the console sales list was in fiscal 2005. Sales of the PS4's predecessor, the PlayStation 3, came in below expectations, and the company faced an uphill battle against Nintendo's Wii and DS. The PS4's popularity finally brought Sony back to the fore.
But the video game console market continues to lose ground to smartphone games. It has become essential for companies to offer new services such as cloud-based games to attract players.
SCE will likely stay at No. 1 this fiscal year. Sales of the PS4 will take off in earnest, while Nintendo has few noteworthy releases planned.