Report: Sony will use the PS4 to fill the PS5 supply gap


picture of Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S
Enlarge / L-R: Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S.

Sam Machkovech

With the PlayStation 5 still hard to find at retail amid worldwide semiconductor shortages, Sony has canceled plans to discontinue the PS4, extending the system’s life through 2022.

That’s according to a Bloomberg News report citing “people familiar with the matter” who say that Sony told assembly partners that it had planned to discontinue the PS4 at the end of 2021. Instead, the company now plans this year to produce a million units of the older console, which uses less-advanced chips that are easier to source. Sony could adjust that number based on demand.

For context, the PS4 sold 1.7 million units in the first nine months of 2021, according to financial reports, compared to 8.9 million PS5 units in that same time.

Sony, for its part, denied that it had previously considered stopping PS4 production. “It is one of the best-selling consoles ever, and there is always crossover between generations,” the company told Bloomberg. Indeed, the PS3 continued to be produced in Japan until 2017, over three years after the introduction of the PS4. And the PS2 was still in production at the end of 2012, missing an overlap with the PS4 production by just one year. In general, popular consoles can continue to sell for years after their successors launch.

That said, there are some signs that Sony was pushing for a quicker transition into the PS5 generation. The new system enjoys nearly full backward compatibility with PS4 software, something that was not true during Sony’s last console transitions. Sony has also highlighted that capability with the PlayStation Plus collection, offering many “generation-defining” PS4 games to PS5 owners as part of a monthly subscription plan.

A quick break for Microsoft

In contrast to Sony, Microsoft has confirmed that it quietly discontinued production of the entire Xbox One line over a year ago, shifting its gaming focus completely to the Xbox Series S/X. The Xbox maker told the Verge that it “stopped production for all Xbox One consoles by the end of 2020.”

In some ways, that confirmation isn’t too shocking. Back in July 2020, Microsoft announced that it was stopping production of the Xbox One X and the Xbox One S All-digital Edition, leaving just the Xbox One S to represent the aging hardware line. At the time, Microsoft called it a “natural step” as the company “ramp[s] into the future with Xbox Series X.” The Xbox One also never sold quite as well as the PS4 in terms of raw hardware units, making the decision to stop production a bit easier for Microsoft than Sony.

On the other hand, Microsoft once promised that the first year or two of Xbox Series S/X “enhanced” games would also be compatible with the Xbox One, a pledge made possible thanks to features like Smart Delivery and universal peripheral compatibility. That made it sound like the Xbox One hardware could continue for a while as the cheap, low-end model of the Xbox ecosystem, much in the way low-end PC hardware can continue to co-exist with top-of-the-line CPUs and GPUs.

Instead, Microsoft has decided to make a clean break, leaving almost no overlap in the production of the Xbox One and its “Series” successors. It’s a good thing, then, that the Xbox Series S seems to have plenty of supply on store shelves, even as the more powerful Series X remains hard to find.



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