The Global semiconductor shortage threatens to cut PlayStation 5 supplies throughout the year, even as Sony’s chief gaming officer insisted the company would be able to produce ‘decent numbers’ of its new console in the second half of the year 2021.
The PS5 has been one of the most sought-after tech products of recent months, with shipments selling out as soon as they hit stores when the console was on. launched in November of last year.
Coronavirus lockdowns have only added to player demand for the latest consoles and software, fueling what should be record profits for Sony’s gaming division in the fiscal year through March. Sony improved its gaming unit’s annual revenue forecast earlier this month, primarily through improved sales of gaming software, services and accessories.
But the wider increase in demand for electronic components, automobile industry to smartphones, over the past year it has encountered pandemic-related disruption in semiconductor manufacturing. Analysts expect the chip industry to take several more months to recover.
Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said he expected the persistent limitations on the PS5’s supply to “gradually ease throughout 2021,” but he refused to guarantee that there would be enough to meet demand by the next holiday sales season.
“It will get better every month throughout 2021,” he said. “The pace of improvement in the supply chain will accelerate throughout the year, so by the time we get to the second half of , you’re going to see some really decent numbers. ”
But he added, “There are very few magic wands that can be waved.”
Ryan reiterated Sony’s “aspiration” to sell more PS5 consoles in 2021 than the 14.9 million unit sales of its predecessor, the PlayStation 4, in its first 12 months. Earlier this month, Sony announced that it had sold 4.5 million PS5s in November and December.
That compares with the 26 million Nintendo Switch consoles sold in 2020, according to Ampere Analysis, which also estimates that Microsoft sold around 2.8 million of its latest Xbox Series X / S in the last two months of last year.
“While far from weak, Sony and Microsoft will regret their inability to produce more consoles to meet high demand,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, analyst at Ampère.
Ben Bajarin, analyst at Creative Strategies, predicts that the slowdown in semiconductors will persist until 2022. “For them to catch up, demand has to slow,” he said. “I see no 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.
Although Sony says PSVR sales have exceeded expectations, VR products have generally sold poorly, especially compared to the high hopes that followed Facebook’s $ 2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014.
More recently, there have been signs of resumption of growth. Facebook reported “strong” sales of its latest headset, Oculus Quest 2, during the Christmas holidays. Apple is reportedly preparing a “mixed reality” device for a launch that could take place as early as next year.
Ryan provided a few details on the specifications or launch date of the new PlayStation headset, except to say that it would be connected with a single cable to the PS5 console.
“To really deliver a VR experience that will appeal to PS5 owners, it requires the system to be connected,” he said, alluding to a “high end” system with rich graphics.
This approach contrasts with Oculus, which now focuses on standalone and self-contained headsets, even if that means compromising on graphics fidelity. Oculus ended development of its Rift PC-connected product line last year.
“Obviously, technology has evolved from the first PlayStation VR headset, and we’re going to capture that,” Ryan said.