Sony PlayStation 5 launch brings new console war into full bloom: The PlayStation 5 has launched – a high-stakes debut for Sony (SNE -0.3%), whose link to consumers is now heavily defined by its game/media console.
Its launch date comes just two days after a new generation of Xbox consoles from Microsoft (MSFT +0.2%), and the two heavy hitters are taking different tacks in their living-room battle: Xbox is riding on some powerful specs and a popular game-subscription service, while Sony is launching with high-profile exclusive games such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
But Sony – which used to have consumer electronics throughout customers’ homes – may have more at stake with its console, which is responsible for about a third of revenues overall, and most of the profits. (Gaming makes up about 10% of Microsoft sales, by comparison.)
As opposed to Xbox, which took on the hard sell of a simultaneous worldwide launch, Sony is “available” today in Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, North America and South Korea, with other countries waiting until next week. But that doesn’t mean PS5s are widespread, as both companies face availability crunches after heavy preorders.
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Sony is looking to remedy that by shipping to the U.S. via air – an expensive choice for a console that was already widely considered to be a loss leader intended to set up years of game sales.
And a COVID-19 pandemic means that compared to the previous launches seven years ago, there aren’t long midnight lines at stores. (The pandemic also means that Sony, Microsoft and Switch maker Nintendo (NTDOY +2.1%) have become front and centre in the stay-at-home trade.)
Sony’s looking to beat the performance for its PS4 with the new console, of which it expects to sell 7.6M by March’s end. The PS4 eventually sold 113M units.
The PS5 lists for $500, while its slimmer version without an optical drive goes for $400. (Xbox’s new flagship Series X also lists for $500, while its smaller discless sibling goes for $300.)
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