Sony to press ahead with 2020 PS5 launch, despite coronavirus
Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation 5 (PS5) console is on track to ship during the holiday season of 2020. The announcement was made during its quarterly earnings call on 13 May, during which Sony said there have been some challenges relating to the testing process and production line qualifications due to employees working remotely and international travel restrictions. However, Sony stated that these issues were being addressed and preparations were nonetheless on track for the launch to take place as scheduled.
Sony said PlayStation 4 (PS4) sales were trending well, having shipped 1.5 million units in Q4 2019. This is a decrease year-on-year, which was expected given that PS4 production levels had been impacted by coronavirus-related supply chain issues and that many consumers will now be holding out for the PS5 release as the PS4 nears end of life.
The PS4 has now shipped over 110.4 million units since its launch in 2013, making it second highest selling home console of all time, behind only the PlayStation 2, which shipped 155 million units in total. It is also the most popular current-generation home console, having sold more units than the Microsoft Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch put together.
By contrast, Sony’s network services have been positively impacted by the pandemic. Sony reported that services revenue had increased significantly. This includes PlayStation Network (PSN), Sony’s online gaming service, PlayStation Plus (PS Plus), its enhanced subscription service which includes additional gaming and social features, and PlayStation Now (PS Now), its on-demand games streaming service. Gameplay hours on PSN were 50% higher than during the previous Christmas season. Sales of games downloaded from the network and PS Plus and PS Now subscriber numbers had also increased significantly since March, when lockdowns were imposed, and schools were closed in many countries worldwide. Since no major PlayStation-exclusive titles were released during this period, these increases are likely to be attributable to the imposition of lockdowns generally, as opposed the release of a particular game, and could therefore be more sustained.
Since only the last two weeks of March 2020 were included in the Q4 2019 results, it seems likely that the increased software sales and gameplay hours will continue for much of Q1 2020. “As people refrain from going out, demand for digital entertainment has increased and we expect the trend to continue for some time,” Hiroki Totoki, Sony’s chief financial officer, said on 13 May.
Sony has also announced updated release dates for flagship PS4-exclusive titles The Last of Us Part 2 and Ghost of Tsushima, which will release on June 19 and July 17 respectively. As such, there is still plenty of new content for PS4 owners to look forward to before the PS5 hits the shelves this holiday season.
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