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Analysis: When will PS5 release?
Retail and development sources point to a mid-November launch for PlayStation, but Covid-19 could yet affect Sony’s plans
With just three months to go until Black Friday, the biggest sales day of the year, we still don’t know exactly when PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will release.
Microsoft has committed to a November launch window for its console, and VGC’s retail and development sources indicate that PlayStation will stick to the same month.
But in these unprecedented times, Sony and Microsoft are being forced to make equally unusual preparations for their impending next-gen console launches.
UPDATE: Sony has officially announced a PlayStation 5 release date of Thursday, November 12 in the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia and South Korea. The rest of the world will get the console a week later on Thursday, November 19, including Europe, Middle East, South America, Asia and South Africa.
PS5 release date
When will PS5 come out?
Sony has officially announced a PlayStation 5 release date of Thursday, November 12 in the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia and South Korea.
Will PS5 release at the same time in the US and Europe?
The rest of the world will get the console a week later on Thursday, November 19, including Europe, Middle East, South America, Asia and South Africa.
ORIGINAL STORY CONTINUES: Launching a product during the Christmas sales period is not easy at the best of times, but with the Covid-19 pandemic still disrupting global infrastructure, neither platform holder can be confident of sticking to an exact date for their console launches, even this late in the year.
That’s the reason why the two companies are hesitant to share precise release dates for PS5 and Series X, and why even major retailers and development partners don’t know exactly when to plan for.
Both PlayStation and Microsoft are keeping a close eye on the Covid-19 pandemic, as this will influence how and when they release their products. If there’s another spike in cases, this could not only affect the ability for physical stores to sell their consoles, but it could also disrupt shipping from online retailers.
“This is why we’re waiting so long to hear about pre-orders and software line-up… companies are waiting until they can be as sure as they can about what they can deliver to consumers,” Gamer Network’s head of games B2B, Christopher Dring, told VGC. “It’s a complicated time, and you would typically place a strong bet on PS5 arriving somewhere in the middle of November. But things can change very quickly.”
Sources: PS5 will release in mid-November
According to VGC’s development and retail sources, mid-November is exactly when PlayStation 5 is most likely to land. In the UK, we understand that PlayStation has already booked significant marketing spend for the seven days commencing on Friday, November 13. Multiple retail sources have also told us that a launch during this window would fit within their expectations.
Development and retail sources also agree that Xbox will launch first. Microsoft has told developers to plan towards a launch in the very first week of the November, we understand, which would also give it wiggle room to potentially slip into the second week and still launch ahead of Sony. Xbox sources indicated that the platform holder is also expecting PS5 to arrive within the week commencing November 13.
“Ideally, you’d want to launch before the end of November if you want to capitalise on the Christmas sales window, as getting your product out before the final payday of the year is a key move.”
For PS5, the suggested launch timing would mean it could release alongside key software such as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077, and also get a head start on the lucrative Black Friday sales: a date platform holders typically want to avoid.
“Products do launch during that time, especially as there’s a large number of people shopping over that weekend, but you’re going to find yourself competing with products that have been heavily discounted,” Dring explains.
“Ideally, you’d want to launch before the end of November if you want to capitalise on the Christmas sales window, as getting your product out before the final payday of the year is a key move. Indeed, after Black Friday, the biggest sales day of the year for online retail tends to be Cyber Monday, which is usually the first Monday in December.”
Will PS5 release globally on the same date?
What’s unclear is whether Sony will adopt a staggered global release schedule, as it has done with previous PlayStation consoles, or whether SIE’s recent globalised restructuring will see it go for a worldwide rollout.
In November 2013, PlayStation 4 launched in North America a full two weeks before it released in Europe, and Japanese consumers had to wait three months until they could buy the console. A staggered launch like this enables the company to deliver local executions, with key executives able to visit each major market to help with their launches.
However, with Sony’s new centralised approach to marketing, plus the increased globalisation of video games, it’s quite possible the company will try to ensure PS5 launches worldwide within a shorter time frame. Consumers certainly shouldn’t expect months between the launches, and according to reports Sony would ideally like to achieve a simultaneous global release.
But whenever PS5 launches, experts expect the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic to continue to disrupt distribution and possibly lead to supply issues.
”We expect Sony and Microsoft to launch next generation consoles as planned this holiday, despite disruption to the supply chain earlier this year due to Covid-19,” Daniel Ahmad, senior analyst at Niko Partners, told VGC.
“Production for both consoles began at the end of June in order to meet demand for the holiday launch. While production is ramping up and component scarcity is less of an issue than before, we believe that logistics issues will be a barrier for both platform holders to overcome this holiday, with the impact from Covid-19 leading to long shipping times and shortages on store shelves during the launch period. We expect Sony and Microsoft to utilise air shipments, which will cost more, to meet demand this year.”
Gamer Network’s Dring agrees the console launches will be challenging for both companies.
“Launching a big product at Christmas is already a big task with competing releases vying for consumer attention, not just in games, plus competition for advertising space. And that’s even without two consoles launching at the same time, a global pandemic creating potential logistical issues, and a worldwide recession.
“But even with all that, both consoles will launch this year, lots of people will buy them and we will have some great games to play on them. We just have to be a tiny bit patient until we can find out when.”