The number of paid PlayStation Plus subscriptions rose to 26.4m in 2016, Sony has confirmed, showing a growth of 27 per cent since 2015.
The news comes from Sony's investor relations day 2017 presentation, where the company talked about its plans to further grow the PlayStation 4 ecosystem. However, considering the number of PS Plus subscribers almost doubled in 2015, it appears Sony hasn't been able to replicate its success for a second time running.
However, it also reported that the total number of monthly active users on the PlayStation Network as a whole has now reached 70m, as of March 31st 2017.
For comparison, Microsoft reported in April that the number of monthly active users on Xbox Live has now reached 52m – a figure that includes both free and paid Gold members.
As for PS4 hardware sales, Sony didn't reveal any new figures in its presentation, but it did predict that it will sell 78m units by the end of the fiscal year 2017. It's also hoping upcoming titles such as Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and GT Sport will help enhance the console's game line-up.
That said, there are still several factors stacked against Sony. Despite the company predicting a growth of 25 per cent year-on-year in operating profit next year for its games and network services segment, much of its growth is set to be curtailed by a combination of falling PS3 sales, poor exchange rates and rising SGA expenses. Indeed, take a look at the chart below from the presentation, and almost all of Sony's expected growth in network revenue will be practically wiped out come the end of the year, leaving its growing PS4 and PS VR business as the main driver behind its growth.
To help counterbalance this, the presentation also outlined Sony's plans to expand its VR content, hinting we may see more movie and music-based content, as well as initiatives to tackle the challenges presented by location-based VR.
Meanwhile, Sony's ForwardWorks mobile project is still only set to launch in Japan and Asia for now, with no word on whether its growing portfolio of new IPs and third-party titles will ever make their way westwards.