Ex-Sony Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House has rubbished recent rumours that the next-generation PlayStation 5 could be ready to launch within the next 18 months.
A rumour broke last week from SemiAccurate suggesting that dev kits had been in developers’ hands for some time now and that a launch in 2018 may even be possible, although unlikely. House is having none of it though, and he reckons there’s a good bit of life left in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One yet.
“I’m very bullish on longer life cycles for consoles,” he said at the GamesBeat conference. “Consoles are so under-represented and under-penetrated in so many markets around the globe. There’s so much potential. Let’s not forget that China is still largely untapped.”
The spread of consoles is typically clustered around North America, Western Europe, Japan, and Australasia, with more sporadic popularity around the rest of the world. This is often due to the flat pricing structure of consoles, making them comparatively more expensive in some territories. Other places, like Brazil, place a whopping great 63% tax on PlayStation 4 imports, for example, driving the cost up to the equivalent of $1800 when the PS4 launched. It therefore becomes far more cost effective for gamers in these areas to build cheaper PCs and have instant access to the catalogue of thousands of older games available on the likes of Steam.
These are the “under-penetrated” markets that House is speaking of, although it’s difficult to discern just how Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo could succeed in these markets without further price cuts.
There’s no doubt though that this generation has a long way to go until it can match the sheer size of the 6th or 7th generation of consoles. The PlayStation 2 was a behemoth that reached 158 million sales (more than double the PS4), while the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 collectively reached 269.43 million units sold. The current crop of consoles have achieved 121.36 million between them, so there’s certainly still room to grow.
As for an all-digital future, House doesn’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. “I don’t have any firm knowledge on this, but my sense is that you will see the disc around in the industry for a while,” he said. ”If you’re going to tap into some of these markets, then allowing for that more traditional physical purchase model as an option is probably no bad thing.”
Kotaku, too, appears to have knowledge the PlayStation 5 isn’t happening anytime soon. They believe we’re not going to see Sony’s console any sooner than 2020, roughly seven years after the PlayStation 4 originally launched.
We're all over the place on this one now then, but when do you think the time is actually right for the next generation of consoles?