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Sony spills PlayStation revenue secrets thanks to Sharpie use

Sensitive information concerning Sony’s PlayStation revenue has spilled onto the internet, and it’s all thanks to the use of a humble Sharpie.

The Japanese giant has been supplying documentation to a US court for the FTC vs Microsoft hearing, the outcome of which is very much in Sony’s interests. At stake is the future of the Call of Duty series on PlayStation consoles.

What very much isn’t in Sony’s interests, however, is for key financial information to be exposed to one and all as part of the process.

As The Verge reports, one document from PlayStation chief Jim Ryan featured details on the margins Sony shares with publishers, as well as some of its own first party game costs. These sensitive PlayStation revenue details were redacted.

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The only trouble is, whoever did the redacting used a black Sharpie, which becomes semi-transparent when the source document is scanned. As a result, all of the aforementioned figures and more are there to be pored over.

Naturally, the US court has moved to remove the document from the public domain, but of course this is the internet. It’s well and truly out there in the wild.

Some key details to emerge from this hilariously amateurish bungle: The Last of Us Part 2 cost the company $220 million to make, and required around 200 employees. Another first party Sony studio game, Horizon Forbidden West, cost $212 million over five years, and required 300 employees.

More pertinent to the matter at hand, the document also revealed that 1 million PlayStation owners played nothing but Call of Duty on their consoles. Meanwhile, 6 million users spent 70% of their time on the series.

Perhaps the stat of all leaked stats here is what the Call of Duty series means to Sony in cold, hard financial terms. It made Sony $800 million in the US in 2021 alone, and it looks like it might have made $1.5 billion around the world. Add in subscriptions, accessories and the like, and that figure balloons to between $13.9 and $15.9 billion (the Sharpie is only semi-transparent, remember).

If you were in any doubt as to why Sony is kicking up such a fuss over Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision, there it is in not-quite-black and white.

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