It can’t be overstated how much of an impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the supply chain that makes mass production of most consumer electronics possible. Rumors abound regarding the pandemic’s potential to delay the launch of Apple’s latest iPhones or Microsoft’s dual-screened Surface Duo and Neo.
For many gamers, there’s a more specific question at front of mind: will coronavirus delay the launch of the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5?
While neither next-generation console has a formal release date, both were expected to launch in 2020 and, specifically, in time for the holiday season. But in a world where more countries are closing their borders and enforcing lockdowns, will Microsoft and Sony still be able to live up to those expectations?
A recent report by DFC Intelligence claims otherwise.
“Coronavirus is likely to have a major short-term impact on the delivery of both systems," the report says.
"There is a strong likelihood one or both systems will not make a 2020 launch. If the systems do launch, supply will likely be constrained and initial pricing could be higher than expected. Currently the economy is in an unprecedented state of uncertainty. Even if the situation clears up in a few weeks, the ability to manufacture and release a high-end new game system has already been severely impacted."
Will the launch of the Xbox Series X be delayed due to coronavirus?
At this stage, Microsoft has not delayed or told consumers to expect a delay to the console.
That’s not necessarily something you do when you haven’t announced a release date but the fact that the company have previously spoken specifically about the effects that recent supply-chain disruptions will have on future Surface hardware but haven’t done so regarding the Xbox Series X does inspire something close to optimism.
Aside from cancelling E3, where Microsoft likely would have looked to make a splashy debut, coronavirus doesn’t appear to have had much of an impact on the company’s long-term marketing campaign for the product. The company has continued to issue a steady drip-feed of updates, specs and other info about their next console in recent weeks.
At the end of the day, the only real timeframe Microsoft have even vaguely committed to when it comes to launching the Xbox Series X is the 2020 holiday season. Given that they’ve reiterated in recent livestreams about the console, that due-date doesn’t appear to have changed.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently told CNBC that the company “are getting back on rails” when it comes to the supply-side impacts of COVID-19.
Perhaps-tellingly, Nadella says that “the bigger issue is what happens in the United States, in Europe, and other developing markets, around the demand side of this going forward.”
Will the launch of the Playstation 5 be delayed due to coronavirus?
According to recent reports from Bloomberg, Sony doesn’t expect to see any notable impact on the launch of its next-generation game console as a result of coronavirus.
Like the Xbox Series X, the Playstation 5 is expected to launch towards the end of 2020 but lacks a formalised release date. Of course, with the recent indefinite delay of The Last of Us: Part II, it’s easy to see that earlier stance as optimistic.
In their delay announcement, developer NaughtyDog blamed logistic problems. They say they “want to make sure everyone gets to play The Last of Us Part II around the same time”.
The question of whether that unspecific time is before or after the launch of the PS5 feels particularly pertinent here. The Last of Us: Part II was expected to be the last major AAA release for the Playstation 4. The title has been positioned as a prestigious send-off to the last generation of gaming and a capstone on this era of Sony’s house style of cinematic action gaming.
For that reason, it seems unlikely - or least incongruous - that Sony would want to go ahead with launching the Playstation 5 before NaughtyDog’s survival sequel arrives.
At this stage, it doesn’t look like the Playstation 5 will be delayed. However, the scope and impact of COVID-19 changes on a daily and weekly basis and it’s not hard to imagine a delay being announced in the near future as the world grapples with the prospects of a prolonged and uncontained pandemic.
Still, as with the Xbox Series X, there are plenty of months between now and the holiday season. Things are far from rosey right now but Sony seem confident that the supply chain and demand of consumers for luxury products like the Playstation 5 will rebound in time for their console to hit its unspoken-but-expected launch window.
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