With the novel coronavirus spreading fast, many people around the world are hoping for answers to a lot of questions. Of course, you should make sure that you and your loved ones are safe before you think about video games. That said, knowing whether the coronavirus will have an impact on your favourite video game platform is still important. We don’t yet know what kind of long-term effect the coronavirus will have on gaming, but a question burns on our lips: will the coronavirus affect the PS5?
Before we answer that question, we must first understand exactly what the coronavirus is. It’s a novel respiratory virus that falls into the same category as the common cold or the flu. Unlike those conditions, however, we don’t have a way to vaccinate against the coronavirus. This means that nobody can truly be deemed safe from it, and those who are older or suffering from existing health conditions are in more significant danger than others.
We’re already starting to see the effects of the coronavirus on the gaming industry. GDC - Game Developers Conference - has been postponed to later this year. Atari’s VCS console - which, admittedly, has been beset by several delays - has now been postponed thanks to the coronavirus. It’s very clear that whatever happens with the virus from now on, the gaming industry has been severely affected by it and the repercussions won’t go away for a while.
With that in mind, then, what will happen to Sony’s PlayStation 5? The console is currently scheduled for the 2020 holiday season, and Sony will doubtless be watching the virus very closely to see what effect it’s having. We don’t yet know exactly what the PlayStation 5 will look like, nor what its controller or launch titles will be. Sony’s playing its cards very close to its chest, and that’s to be expected; it doesn’t want to give away too much too soon. With that said, the coronavirus may force its hand.
There are three distinct possibilities here, each of which depends entirely on what happens with the coronavirus. Given that the outbreak probably hasn’t reached its apex yet and that the coronavirus will doubtless start appearing in more countries, the PlayStation 5’s future, while not necessarily uncertain, does have a shadow over it. The timing, nature, and future of the PlayStation 5 are all being called into question by the coronavirus, and how Sony responds to this crisis will shape its business plan.
The first possibility is probably the most straightforward one: the outbreak burns itself out before the PlayStation 5’s scheduled holiday season release time and the console launches without issue. Some experts believe that the spring and summer months’ hotter weather could significantly impact the outbreak, and if that happens then containment will become much easier. The PlayStation 5 would be on track for its original release in this case. It’s not totally unlikely.
The second possibility is, of course, that the coronavirus continues to ravage the world and that the PlayStation 5’s release date is pushed back. Right now, we don’t think this option is massively likely. It’s possible, of course, but the combination of warmer weather along with increased public information campaigns and governmental intervention should mean that the coronavirus won’t impact the PS5 too much. Still, it’s a good idea to remain vigilant.
Thirdly and finally, a mixture of the two scenarios could present itself. Sony might have to delay the PS5 despite the coronavirus outbreak easing. The reason is simple: the coronavirus could heavily impact suppliers and part manufacturers for the PlayStation 5, meaning that the parts simply won’t be there when they’re needed. In this case, it doesn’t really matter what Sony wants to do; they’ll have to respond to the supply they have and delay the console despite phenomenal demand. This seems the most likely option.
If you are a PlayStation fan, there is, of course, an upside to all this: if Sony has to delay its plans, that means Microsoft likely will, too. Should the outbreak get worse and some areas be quarantined, there won’t be a consumer base for Microsoft or Sony’s consoles and the launch of both the PS5 and the upcoming Xbox Series X will need to be delayed. That means that Microsoft won’t find a foothold in the upcoming console war and that Sony will be able to compete.
There is a fourth possibility, but it’s not likely. It could be that Sony responds to the coronavirus outbreak by declaring business as usual and simply releasing the PS5 when it was originally intended to be released. It would be a little irresponsible of Sony to do this if the outbreak is bad by holiday season this year, but it’s possible as a sort of economic reassurance. Again, we don’t expect this option to happen, but keep an eye out to see what Sony does next.
So, to answer the question in a nutshell: yes, the coronavirus is likely to affect the PlayStation 5’s launch, but it probably won’t be too severe. The delay caused could knock the console back a couple of months, but the coronavirus has a fairly low fatality rate, so it’s unlikely that the virus will cause society to grind to a halt. Some drastic measures may have to be put in place, and while that’s happening it may feel a little difficult, but when things return to normal, Sony’s console will be right there waiting.
Featured photo source - ICOOLKID.com