Last weekend, rumors started flying that Sony would be opening pre-orders for the PS5 on Monday. Don’t worry: you didn’t blink and miss it, but nor was it pulled at the last second. According to PlayStation head of marketing Eric Lempel, the company has no idea where the rumor came from, and it wasn’t part of Sony’s plans.
“We don’t know what happened – we had nothing to do with it,” Lempel told Summer Game Festival curator Geoff Keighley. “I got a message from someone saying ‘people are lining up at stores’ and we had no idea why!"
- Xbox Series X vs PS5: Which is better?
- Could the Xbox Series S replace the 'discontinued' Xbox One?
- Plus: Xbox Series X will run all Xbox One games — but there's a catch
“So I think it’s safe to say that we’ll let you know when pre-order will happen. It’s not going to happen with a minute’s notice. At some point we’ll let you know when you can pre-order PlayStation 5, so please don’t feel like you have to go run out and line up anywhere until you receive official notice on how that’ll work.”
When will #ps5 pre-orders start? PlayStation worldwide marketing head Eric Lempel says they will give gamers plenty of advance notice. #SummerGameFest pic.twitter.com/ga08j8IvWDJuly 17, 2020
That may sound reassuring on one level, but time is ticking. We know that both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will launch before the year is out, which gives us an absolute maximum of 167 days. Realistically, both companies will want their consoles on shelves in the run up to Christmas, so you can probably cut that to 136.
For comparison’s sake, Sony revealed the price of the PlayStation 4 at E3 2013 on June 11 — a day after Microsoft showed its hand with the Xbox One. The console went on to launch 157 days later on 15 November, so even if Sony revealed the price tomorrow, it would still give eager early adopters less time to save than last time around.
Why the secrecy? Simply, with both Sony and Microsoft launching next-generation consoles this year, nobody wants to be the first to reveal and risk being undercut by the opposition — and with good reason. The only time Sony has failed to massively outsell Microsoft in hardware was with the PlayStation 3, when the console was priced at $500 to the Xbox 360’s $400.
It’s also possible that Sony hasn’t decided what price to make the PlayStation 5 — an idea backed by a survey that did the rounds recently. That may sound a bit unprepared, but we are in unprecedented times with the full economic impact of coronavirus not fully understood. Are people tightening belts so unwilling to buy expensive hardware? Or maybe people accept that they’ll be spending more time inside, so are willing to pay extra for home entertainment?
The answer to these questions will ultimately see how much Sony is willing to subsidize its new machine — but it’s clearly reluctant to show its hand with Microsoft waiting in the wings.