Given the current economic disruption, it would be a mistake for Sony and Microsoft to launch the Ninth Generation consoles in 2020.
A Case for Launching the Ninth Generation Consoles in 2021
2020 has been a turbulent year all thanks to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Most of the word has a “shelter-in-place” order while medical professionals struggle to treat those in need. Some communities have avoided a disaster while others have seen their hospitals become a house of nightmares. In response to the pandemic, many industries have had to either layoff or furlough employees causing the market to tank.
As of this moment, the future looks as black as it is unwritten.
With so much uncertainty, it would be a mistake for Sony and Microsoft to kick-off the Ninth Generation console era in late 2020. Things are looking bleak now and we don’t know what the end of the year will look like. With so much that has happened, nobody is ready for a new console era. It would be in their best interest and for their community if they pushed back the launch to Q4 2021.
The Consumer Perspective
Lets state the economical obvious. With this kind of financial uncertainty looming, a new game console is not going to be on anyone’s shopping list. Many (including myself) are more concerned about still having a job three months form now. Even if many pass the hurdle of employment uncertainty, there are still other obstacles we might need to overcome. It’s unclear if life could return to normal in regards to ones financial stability.
It’s true the industry has seen a sales boom as those in quarantine have bought several new titles to help fight the boredom. This makes sense since we all could easily spend $20 to $60 for a title that would take us on an unforgettable adventure. That is not the same as spending around $400 (give or take) on a new console. Who is to say that many will have the financial option of purchasing a new console in late 2020? Most of us will want to use that money for necessities like rent, food or health insurance.
With all these factors, Sony and Microsoft might not see the desired sales number in 2020. The current economic climate is most likely to produce sale results that are below expectation. It would instead be in their best interest to delay the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X to Q4 2021 (in time for the holiday season).
The Industry Perspective
As much as we need video games, it’s unfortunately a non-essential industry (despite what GameStop likes to say). Hence, the shelter in place has also restricted the development of new titles. As a result, several games that were set for a late Spring / early Summer launch have been delayed (some being indefinitely).
One could also expect the shelter in place to have an impact on the development of Ninth Generation console titles. Currently; there are only a few confirmed launch titles for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X at the moment. Many more have been rumored or speculated, but not much has been confirmed. Given the uncertainty of what the next few months will look like, it’s unlikely these new titles could be ready by launch. It’s already speculated that several launch titles may have to be delayed.
Something to note is that many studios might be reluctant to invest resources into a new console generation during a recession. With the consumers being hesitant to buy a new $400 console, studios might want to play it safe. They could be financially focused on still making games for the current generation consoles for a few more years. This is not to say they will ignore the Ninth Generation consoles, it will be more of an afterthought.
Factor in the lack of a promotion or marketing campaigns along with the disruption to supply chains and international trade. It’s obvious that the industry is also in no position to start a new console generation. So why launch the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X in 2020? It makes more sense to aim for a 2021 launch.
Waiting Till Q4 2021
Overall the concept of a 2020 launch is not going to work out for anyone. With so much uncertainty, it’s in Sony and Microsoft best interest to delay their Ninth Generation consoles until Q4 2021. By next year, the economic damages would have healed or on the path to recovery. For the consumer, they will be in a better financial position to purchase a new console. Many of us will have overcome the economic hurdles brought on by the pandemic. Thus we will be more financially secured to purchase a new console with some new games.
The industry will also have more time to invest in the development of new launch titles. Manufactures will be in a better position to meet market demand for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Studios could use the extra time to polish their title or start investing in developing games for the new consoles. Finally, everyone will have more time to better market themselves to the consumers.
The Future is Unwritten
It’s unclear how 2020 will end. With so much uncertainty, it’s in the industries best interest to wait until 2021 to start a new console era. Everyone will be in a better position to start in a new era of gaming. Consumers will be in a better position to purchase a new console while the industry has released quality games for the new era.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.
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