The PlayStation 4 is entering the “final phase of its life cycle” according to Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera, speaking at Sony Investor Relations Day 2018. Kodera spoke candidly to investors, analysts, and reporters regarding the future of the PlayStation 4 console, acknowledging the PS4’s remaining time was limited, but that the brand’s future remained strong.
It’s important to frame Kodera’s language within the context of the event. Kodera is speaking to investors regarding the future of the company in terms of multiple years. Having sold through well over 70 million PlayStation 4‘s already, there’s comparatively less opportunity to sell more going forward. This period of lessened hardware sales is what Kodera is referring to as the console’s final phase. The implication, of course, is that new hardware such as a PlayStation 5 is being prepared to take over.
Following that thread, Kodera would go on to say that between now and March 2021 would be when PlayStation “crouches down” in order to grow in the future. This lends itself to current speculation that a PlayStation 5 console would launch in late 2019 or 2020. If Kodera expects new growth by the end of the 2021 fiscal year, which ends March 2021, a 2020 PS5 launch makes a lot of sense. Console launches are typically quite costly, so growth would occur not the fiscal year of the launch but the fiscal year after instead.
PS chief Kodera: PS4 is entering final phase of its life cycle, which would have negative impact to the unit, but recurring revenue via membership services etc should cushion some of that.
— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) May 22, 2018
John Kodera would go on to say that membership services for PlayStation are expected to remain strong. Sony announced PlayStation Plus crossed 34.2 million subscribers just over a month ago, so Kodera is definitely underplaying the company’s success. On the other hand, Kodera also says that, while PlayStation VR is seeing growth, the virtual reality industry’s overall growth is below expectations. He says PlayStation “aims for further growth with [a] realistic outlook.”
And in the relatively near future, Kodera says to expect consistent releases of exclusive games for both PlayStation 4 and PS VR. Curiously, he mentions a focus on franchising successful IPs and refreshing existing IPs. Perhaps he’s referring to the God of War refresh and the Naughty Dog’s upcoming The Last of Us sequel. Though considering Sony’s success with first-party titles, he could be referring to any number of games.
The PlayStation 4 is entering the final phase of its life cycle. Luckily, what that means for PlayStation 4 owners is more of the same great line-up of games that have made the console consistently great in the years since its launch. But the release of the PlayStation 5 does loom in the next several years, and what that console will bring to the table is anyone’s guess at this point.