The global semiconductor shortage threatens to curtail PlayStation 5 supplies for the remainder of this year, even as Sony’s gaming chief insisted the company could produce “decent numbers” of its new console in the second half of 2021. .
The PS5 has been one of the most sought-after tech products in recent months, with shipments selling out as soon as they hit stores when the console launched last November.
Coronavirus lockdowns have only added to gamers’ demand for the latest consoles and software, which is expected to bring record profits for Sony’s gaming division in the fiscal year to March. Sony improved its gaming unit’s annual sales forecast earlier this month, mainly thanks to improved sales of gaming software, services and accessories.
But the broader surge in demand for electronic components, from the automotive industry to smartphones, over the past year has collided with a pandemic-related disruption in semiconductor manufacturing. Analysts expect the chip industry to take many more months to recover.
Jim Ryan, president and chief executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said he expected PS5’s ongoing supply constraints to “incrementally ease over 2021,” but declined to guarantee there would be enough to meet demand by the end of 2021. the next holiday season.
“It will get better every month in 2021,” he said. “The pace of improvement in the supply chain will accelerate over the year, so by the time we get into the second half of you’re going to see some really decent numbers. ”
But he added, “There are very few wands that can be waved.”
Ryan reiterated Sony’s “aspiration” to sell more PS5 consoles by 2021 than the 14.9 million sales of its predecessor, the PlayStation 4, in its first 12 months. Earlier this month, Sony said it had sold 4.5 million PS5s in November and December.
That compares to 26 million Nintendo Switch consoles sold in 2020, according to Ampere Analysis, which also estimates that Microsoft sold about 2.8 million of its latest Xbox Series X/S in the last two months of last year.
“While far from weak, both Sony and Microsoft will regret their inability to produce more consoles to meet strong demand,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, an analyst at Ampere.
Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, predicts that the semiconductor slowdown will continue through 2022. “To catch up, demand has to decrease,” he said. “I don’t see the end in sight.”
Ryan’s comments came as Sony revealed plans to launch a new virtual reality headset to connect to the PS5, after the previous PlayStation VR sold more than 5 million units.
While Sony claims that PSVR sales have exceeded expectations, virtual reality products have generally sold poorly, especially when compared to the high expectations that followed Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014.
More recently, there have been signs of renewed growth. Facebook reported “strong” sales of its latest headset, Oculus Quest 2, over the Christmas break. Apple is reportedly preparing a “mixed reality” device for a launch that could take place next year.
Ryan gave little detail on the specs or launch date of the new PlayStation headset, other than that it would be tethered to the PS5 console with a single cable.
“To really deliver a VR experience that PS5 owners will be happy with, the system has to be tethered,” he said, referring to a “high-end” system with rich graphics.
That approach is in stark contrast to Oculus, which is now targeting standalone standalone headsets, even if it means making concessions in graphical fidelity. Oculus ended development of its PC-connected Rift product line last year.
“Obviously, the technology has moved on since the first PlayStation VR headset, and we’ll capture that,” Ryan said.
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