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PS5 and Xbox Series X launches could be delayed by coronavirus

Image credit: Microsoft

The rival consoles – among the most anticipated consumer electronics of the year – may have their winter 2020 launch dates delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sony’s upcoming PlayStation and Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox have been under development for almost seven years. Although Sony has not yet formally revealed details of the PS5, the rival consoles will contain next-generation GPUs designed for fast-loading graphics and a range of new features, including backwards compatibility, and are expected to retail for approximately $500.

Although the consoles were expected to be released ahead of the Christmas holidays this year, their launch plans have not been updated since the viral outbreak of Covid-19, which has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The pandemic is likely to have severe and lasting economic, social, and political consequences all around the world.

The production of non-essential goods like consumer electronics is already being shaken by the pandemic, with factory closures in East Asia – which so far have been mostly been for limited periods of several days – affecting the production of the latest devices from Samsung, Apple, Nintendo, and LG and threatening to delay product launches. Longer factory closures are likely to be triggered by government-enforced social distancing, which would force most workers to stay home for weeks or months while only essential businesses continue to operate.

Apple has warned that it is unlikely to meet its Q2 financial projections on account of disruption in its supply chains.  

Although AMD (which works with both Sony and Microsoft) has indicated that it expects both consoles to launch as planned, analysts have warned that the PS5 and Xbox Series X may see delays.

In a new forecast reported by Forbes, DFC Intelligence has suggested that the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have a serious short-term impact on the delivery of the consoles with both suffering delayed launches. There is a “strong likelihood” that the consoles will not launch until 2021 on account of the impact of Covid-19, it said.

However, DFC Intelligence also predicts that consumer demand will be stronger than ever once the consoles launch, with the additional possibility of limited supply and higher-than-expected pricing.

“The ability to manufacture and release a high-end new game system has already been severely impacted,” the report concluded.

Two of the largest events for the gaming industry – the Game Developer Conference and E3 – have been cancelled in order to minimise risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus. Sony and Microsoft were expected to reveal details of their upcoming consoles at E3 and may instead make use of livestreamed announcements.

As people around the world are encouraged to isolate themselves to minimise risk of transmission, there will be increased demand for home entertainment such as gaming and streaming TV and film. The PC gaming platform Steam had a record-breaking weekend, with 20 million people playing simultaneously.

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