The PlayStation 5 is one of the hottest new products of the year, and one you’ll have to wait at least about eight months to actually buy. It’s also a product that hasn’t yet been given a proper introduction. Sony revealed some details about the PS5’s core hardware, focusing on the massive performance improvements that will enable totally new gaming experiences. But the Japanese giant that sold almost 110 million PS4 units since its release isn’t ready to commit to any PS5 specifics. We have no idea when the console will be unveiled, when it’ll go up for preorder, or how much it’ll cost. But it turns out that Sony hinted at what its PS5 launch timeline might look like and we nearly missed it.
Sony execs said on a recent earnings call that the company still hasn’t decided what the new PlayStation 5 will cost, and we explained at the time why that’s actually good news. Sony seemed to suggest that it’s looking at profitability for the entire PS5 product cycle, and that it’s ready to take a financial hit at first in order to make the PS5 as affordable as possible. The PS5’s initial price tag will be one of the most important factors affecting the buying decisions of gamers looking to upgrade. A recent report claimed that Sony is struggling to keep costs down, with the bill of materials coming in at $450 for the next-gen console.
Sony’s chief financial officer Hiroki Totoki also touched on the PS5 release schedule during the call, a detail we almost missed.
According to a Motley Fool transcript of the call, the exec also addressed guidance for the March quarter in 2021, which would include PS5 sales figures (emphasis ours):
Mikio Hirakawa — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — Analyst
The PS5 is to be launched in the selling season toward the end of the year. So what would be the guidance — the future guidance for March ’21? You have not disclosed the price for PS5. So what would happen to the guidance that you will be releasing in April for the next fiscal year?
Hiroki Totoki — Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer
It’s very difficult to really discuss this timing-wise, but as of today, we will provide the guidance at a time period which is comparable to the past. So we will not change the time schedule.
Totoki was addressing guidance for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins in April and will include almost two full quarters of PlayStation 5 sales, is an important detail. It seems to suggest that Sony will stick to some of its old habits, PlayStation included. Sony released guidance for FY2019, which ends this March, late last April. Totoki seems to suggest we should expect a similar schedule.
This could also be an indication that Sony is looking to stick to the PS4 launch playbook from 2013, although it might not be able to replicate it in its entirety. Sony unveiled the PS4 hardware at a PlayStation Meeting event on February 20th, 2013, which is also where it showed off demos of upcoming games. A few months later at E3 2013, Sony revealed the console’s actual design and the retail price. Then, in mid-August 2013, Sony announced launch dates for various markets.
Fast forward to 2020, and Sony might use a similar recipe. However, the PlayStation Meeting 2020 event can’t take place this month, given that Sony hasn’t sent out press invites for the show. Also, Sony isn’t attending E3 in June, a strange move for Sony’s PS5 launch year. And let’s not forget that the coronavirus outbreak is still a major development this year that will impact product launches, manufacturing, and the global economy.
With all that in mind, including Totoki’s comments about Sony’s FY2020 guidance, we’d expect Sony to reveal more details about the PS5 in the coming months, likely before E3 where game developers might actually show off some upcoming new PlayStation 5 games. But the key here is that it should happen before Sony releases its guidance for the upcoming fiscal year, which Totoki said will still happen in April.