Sony Group Corp. will continue producing PlayStation 4 consoles throughout 2022 as it deals with disruptions to the global supply chain that have limited output of its pricier PlayStation 5.
The Japanese conglomerate, whose flagship PS 5 console has been in scarce supply since its debut in November 2020, told assembly partners late last year that it would continue making its earlier-generation machine through this year, according to people familiar with the matter. Sony had never officially announced when it would stop making the PS 4, but they had previously planned to discontinue assembly at the end of 2021, they said, asking not to be named as the plans are not public.
The strategy would add about a million PS 4 units this year to help offset some pressure on the company's PS 5 production, a figure that will be adjusted in response to demand, the people said. The older console uses less advanced chips, is simpler to make and provides a budget-friendly alternative to the PS 5.
Two of the people said that if we add the cheaper-to-make PS 4 it would give Sony more leeway when negotiating with manufacturing partners for a better deal.
A Sony spokesman confirmed that PS 4 production would continue this year and said the company had not planned to stop making the console. The company said that it is one of the best-selling consoles and there is always crossover between generations.
Jim Ryan, PlayStation chief Jim Ryan said Sony's ambition with the PlayStation 5 was to make a quick transition to the latest hardware. The coronaviruses slowed software development across the games industry, while making hardware demand scarce, making even the most basic components scarce. The result has been a console that is hard to find and lacks a strong portfolio of must-have exclusive games.
The predecessor of PS 4, released in 2013 has sold more than 116 million units and remains a popular option among players. It still provides a large portion of Sony's gaming division income from subscriptions and software sales.
The PlayStation unit is struggling with a series of unanticipated challenges, including a slower than expected PS 5 production pace and online scalpers choking off retail supply of the newer console. According to a Sony official who is not authorized to speak publicly, the expansion of PS 4 availability is seen within the company as a means to fill the supply vacuum and keep gamers within the PlayStation ecosystem.
Some of the most severe supply chain bottlenecks are cheap general-purpose chips for audio, power, and wireless communication functions. Some console makers have found that even offering a higher price won't secure supply of such components as all current production has already been sold, according to sources. Shipping costs have escalated, so distribution remains a challenge even with finished consoles.
While gaming is the biggest source of Sony's revenue, the Japanese electronics giant is exploring new arenas to sustain growth. It is preparing to launch more powerful virtual reality headsets to take advantage of future games and applications in the so-called metaverse and is considering launching its own line of electric vehicles.