A new report suggests Sony may be cutting back on initial shipments of the upcoming PlayStation 5. That’s in part because initial demand for the system may be limited by a higher asking price and by the COVID-19 pandemic’s global impact on consumer spending.
Bloomberg cites unnamed “people familiar with the matter” in reporting that Sony will only produce 5 to 6 million PS5 units by the time its fiscal year ends in March 2021. That would be down from 7.5 million PS4 units produced in a similar timeframe following that system’s late 2013 launch. That PS4 launch included a million units sold in its very first day and over 7 million sold to consumers by early April 2014.
Sony may expect to sell fewer PS5 units initially in part because of a higher-than-normal expected price for its next console. Developers working on PS5 software expect the system to launch for between $499 and $549, according to Bloomberg, driven by more expensive components such as high-speed SSD storage. Some analysts feel the system may launch at a lower, loss-leading price of $450, though, which would be a bit closer to the PS4’s $399 launch offering.
All of those suspected PS5 prices would be on the high end for console launches in terms of nominal dollars, historically. But a $500 PS5 would be well within the normal range once you adjust for inflation. Still, as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the global economy, many consumers may find themselves with less disposable income to spend on luxuries like brand-new game consoles. And the PS5 will also face internal competition from the cheaper PS4 and PS4 Pro, which will also have much larger and more established libraries when the PS5 launches.
Bloomberg’s sources say the coronavirus pandemic has not affected Sony’s production capacity for the PS5, echoing Sony’s own statements on the matter. But the coronavirus has reportedly impacted Sony’s promotional rollout for the system, canceling a public press conference that would have unveiled the release date and price.
Last month, Sony detailed the PS5’s specs in an awkward livestreamed press conference that largely didn’t match the public expectations for more consumer-focused general information. Sony also recently unveiled the PS5 controller design, a move Bloomberg said was designed to pre-empt potential leaks from development partners in the know.