Following Sony’s Corporate Strategy Meeting held in Tokyo a couple of days ago, you may have noticed several articles popping up around the internet alleging that Sony said or implied that the next PlayStation platform is over three years away.
This is based on an article by the Wall Street Journal and some very vague statements made by Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida and Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera.
Yoshida-san mentioned that the three fiscal years until March 31st, 2021 would be dedicated to connecting with users and developers with PS4 as the core of the business. Kodera-san added that the same three years will be a period in which PlayStation will flex in preparation for a further leap towards future growth. These statements will probably sound familiar as they were included in our report of the event.
The outlets that alleged that PlayStation 5 is three years away, or even more, interpreted those statements as precise indications for the coming of the new console, but in reality, they’re not directly related.
The “three years” figure was related to the fact that the whole Corporate Strategy Meeting (for Sony as a whole, and not just for the Game & Network Services business segment that represents PlayStation) was focused on Sony’s “mid-term corporate strategy” plan, spanning the three fiscal years between April 2017 and March 2021.
All executives involved from all the segment of Sony’s business (games, music, imaging, mobile, and semiconductors) talked about the plans and expectations for those three years. The “three years” time frame was mentioned not because Sony expects to launch PS5 beyond March 2021, but only because it was the theme of the whole meeting to begin with.
The only thing that we can extrapolate from those statements is that the PS5 isn’t coming very soon, because it’s unlikely that PS4 will remain the core of the business for several years after the release of its successor. Considering the installed base of Sony’s current console, it’s likely that it’ll remain most relevant for revenue and income (which are what this kind of investor-facing events are all about) especially on the software side, for quite a bit even after the PS5 launches.
Kodera-san’s statement follows a similar philosophy, as he was most likely talking about growth in profitability, and not directly about a generational change. The beginning of a new generation is usually not a period of growth in profitability due to the higher investments and manufacturing costs. The mention of a three-year-long preparation towards future growth most likely implies that the launch of the new console will come at some point within those three years, sparking growth afterward, when manufacturing costs start to decrease, and most of the initial investment has already been done.
On a purely speculative level, we can infer that Yoshida-san and Kodera-san’s statements might imply that PS5 will launch at some point before March 2021, not after.
Bloomberg Tech Reporter Yuji Nakamura is pretty much of the same mind after interviewing Kodera-san, as he mentioned on Twitter (via Resetera) disagreeing with the WSJ’s interpretation that Kodera-san indicated a three-year wait for PS5, and clarifying that he declined to make any specific comment on this topic. Nakamura-san appears to agree with the widely-shared outlook that the console is probably coming around the fall of 2020.
Of course, this is also speculative. The only thing we do know pretty much for sure is that Sony did not in any shape or form say that the PS5 will launch in three years or more. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for Sony to wait that long, but the new console simply wasn’t the topic of Yoshida-san and Kodera-san’s statements.