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Coronavirus outbreak could delay PS5 and Xbox Series X launch

Updated Feb 7th, 2020 7:42AM EST
PS5 Release Date
Image: Microsoft

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The PlayStation 5 and new Xbox are both expected to hit stores this holiday season, and they’ll probably be huge sellers come the Christmas shopping season. We have no actual release dates for either device, and rumors offered various launch windows for the consoles. Some said the PS5 and Xbox Series X could drop in late October, others pointed to a mid-November launch, and some reports went as far as to offer an early December launch date for the new gaming rigs. Since then, however, a new problem has emerged, which could significantly delay both the PlayStation and Xbox launch, or at least make it impossible for Sony and Microsoft to meet initial demand. That’s the coronavirus, of course, an infectious disease that claimed the lives of 638 people since late December out of the more than 31,500 confirmed cases. Authorities in China, where most of these cases appeared, have various regions under lockdown and have extended the new year holiday to reduce the risk of infection. Since most of the world’s gadgets, gaming consoles included, are made in China, we’ve seen increasing reports that production could slow down and affect sales. Products including the iPhone and AirPods are among the ones affected, and Nintendo already confirmed that its newest version of the Switch will see delays because of the virus.

Nintendo CEO Shuntaro Furukawa said last week that production of the console is impacted, Reuters reported earlier this week. Nintendo began moving some of its production out of China last year, to avoid the trade war, but that’s not enough for the company to offset any disruption caused by the outbreak.

Analysts now expect Sony and Microsoft to be impacted by shutdowns of factories in China. “The video game sector is currently manufacturing, or beginning to, a once-in-several-years’ product generation change for the 2020 holiday season,” a Jefferies Group research note to investors reads, per ComicBook. “If [company] shutdowns exceed a month or so, game schedules will be delayed. New consoles may likewise suffer supply issues from a prolonged disruption, ahead of their Fall 2020 planned launches.”

It’s unclear how bad the delay would be, as we don’t have launch dates for either product. Also, it’s unclear what factories and how long they’ll stay close. Researchers around the world are working on a cure for the virus, but a vaccine won’t be ready for months. China, meanwhile, is already fast-tracking a treatment test, but these first trials also take time to show results.

Sony and Microsoft are both expected to hold additional announcement events for the PS5 and new Xbox, respectively, in the coming months. At that point, we’ll hopefully learn actual launch details for the consoles, and have a better idea of what to expect from the coronavirus outbreak going forward.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.