It broke down like a minor bomb last week, when Bloomberg revealed that Sony would not deliver as many consoles as previously planned. Where Playstation 4 sold 7.5 million during the first two quarters (ending March 31, 2021), it is estimated that between five and six million Playstation 5 will be manufactured. Not because they can’t do more, but because they choose it.
It may not sound so remarkable, but cutting down from 7.5 to five million is a one-third reduction. By comparison, Xbox One had sold 3.9 million Xbox One consoles in the first quarter, after which they ended up reporting good data because it was considered bad PR to show how much it slipped after the competitor. But a reasonable guess is that around five to six million Xbox One devices had been sold on March 31 – and that wasn’t numbers people cheered on.
Here, in the name of fairness, it should be pointed out that the Xbox One has not sold as incredibly badly as it has sometimes seemed like in the reporting. It is one of the ten best-selling consoles ever and it beat Mega Drive and Nintendo 64, for example, and many believe that time will probably beat Super Nintendo as well. So it is no disaster to sell these figures to neither Microsoft nor Sony, especially not as they are making money today even outside their own consoles. The seat can be compared to the PSP which was also a success but was always considered a flop because the Nintendo DS went so much better, or how the Nintendo 3DS on the same premises is considered a failure.
But! There is an important difference. Microsoft’s numbers basically include no Japanese sales at all. Between 100,000 and 200,000. They simply have no market there. Their consoles were thus scattered throughout the western world. Now, about the same number of consoles will also cover Japan for Sony’s part. The risk of deficiencies in the Western world is thus imminent, while Microsoft (which again will miss Japan, no one else thinks otherwise?) May sell more in Western markets. So pretty much the same scenario as with the Xbox 360.
But the article did not stop there, as Bloomberg’s sources within Sony talked about a staggering sale throughout the first year. The reasons for this decision are essentially two; corona virus and expensive components. The former has reportedly led to several delays, canceled presentations and more. The latter is also partly a result of the corona virus that affected component production, but Sony has also chosen an unusual hard disk solution that is very expensive and becomes even more expensive when customers are forced to fight for a limited supply.
This makes Playstation 5 appear to be a costly deal for Sony, which is in line with past information that they have trouble nailing a price tag and are eagerly awaiting what Microsoft will charge for its console. So it is no wonder that Sony has not shown Playstation 5 yet, even though Playstation 4 had been announced for over two months by this time in 2013.
It is difficult to present the console, loosen up with the games and then say that they cannot tell when it is released or what it will cost. And if this is something we have learned most involuntarily, it is that things can be delayed or canceled, no matter how big it is (like the Summer Olympics). So there is the risk that not even promised games can be enjoyed, which is also speculated to be one of the reasons why The Last of Us: Part II was postponed indefinitely, to at least have a safe play for the premiere of the console. If it really was the logistics that was the problem, Ghost of Tsushima will not be launched, as it is probably about the exact same logistics for physical games.
As a sort of last cloud of concern, Sony has, according to several reports, chosen a very ambitious cooling system for the Playstation 5, which is why the development unit looks like it does. The Xbox 360 was slightly trumped when it launched, causing Microsoft to release the silent Xbox One. And I think Sony is in the same line with the violently loud Playstation 4 versus Playstation 5.
This has also been launched as part of the reason why Sony has difficulty telling when to release the console and what it should cost. If that is the case, of course I do not know, but still note that there have been some rumors about this, where a specific one spread last month (which I, however, refused to report when I did not think it was a good sender) said that the console’s design is not completely fixed, partly because it was very similar to the Xbox Series X.
This rumor I still do not give much for, but that we have not seen what the Playstation 5 looks like it will probably be in store (no, I do not believe in delays) within seven months starts to feel immediately unstrategic. However, given that production will start this summer, it may actually be that everything is not fully determined yet regarding the design and that there are challenges.
Yesterday we were able to report that there are major announcements in the near future, and although I think Microsoft is doing a lot right now with its Xbox Series X, I am almost even more curious about Sony. What is the console they actually built that is so expensive to manufacture that production has to be cut down and when should it really be released? What titles will I get at it at launch (Sony often shows games that are years away in production)? Will a third party be able to take full advantage of the special hard drive solution without risking the same game for PC and Xbox Series X? Yes, and what will the console look like?
Hopefully they have a positive message for all this (so should anyone who just plays PC, Switch or Xbox hope – good competition makes us all winners), but I’m not really convinced that it will communicate exactly what the fans want to hear .