Sony has issued a rare denial in response to a recent report from Bloomberg suggesting the company has cut back production of the upcoming PlayStation 5 due to component shortages.
“While we do not release details related to manufacturing, the information provided by Bloomberg is false,” the company said in a statement provided to GamesIndustry.biz. “We have not changed the production number for PlayStation 5 since the start of mass production.”
Bloomberg’s report cited “people familiar with the matter” to suggest that the company was lowering its expected worldwide console production from 15 million down to 11 million for the fiscal year ending in March 2021. That’s due to “production yields as low as 50% for its SOC,” according to the report.
Sony’s statement that PS5 production goals have not changed also cuts against previous Bloomberg reports on Sony’s purportedly unsettled PS5-making plans. In July, Bloomberg reported that Sony had decided to roughly double its planned manufacturing capacity from 5 or 6 million units to 10 million units “this year.”
Before that, in April, Bloomberg reported that Sony had decided to “produce far fewer units” of the PS5 than it had for the PS4’s launch in 2013, in part because “it expects the PS5’s ambitious specs to weigh on demand by leading to a high price at launch.”
For context, Sony produced 7.5 million PS4 units through March of 2014, at least 6 million of which sold through to consumers in that time. Bloomberg’s reported “reduced” production target of 10 million units would still be a significant relative increase in the launch window period.
Reading the tea leaves
Pent-up demand among early-adopter console buyers usually means the very first shipments of major new consoles sell out almost immediately, which means you can’t read too much into the first few days of sales for a new console. As the holiday sales quarter transitions into a new year, though, console makers have to carefully tune their production capacity to avoid either frustrating prolonged shortages or a costly supply glut.
Console makers also have to deal with the potential impact of COVID-related economic shocks on demand for new console hardware. Nintendo’s Switch saw widespread sellouts earlier this year as players flocked to the system for entertainment during pandemic-related lockdowns. But Microsoft said in March that it was carefully monitoring “the demand side” of things as some countries continue to face increased unemployment rates.
Launch-window console sales numbers are usually a drop in the bucket compared to lifetime sales numbers, but they can provide a good sign of momentum for which platform console gamers are likely to favor in the coming years. Microsoft has suggested that the old “console war” mindset of increased marketshare is less important than “are we gaining new customers, are they buying games, are they engaged in the service.”
Listing image by Sony / Aurich Lawson