An early estimate of the next wave of home console sales states that Sony will go on to sale 120 million Playstation 5s to Microsoft Xbox Series X’s 60 million units. What’s outstanding about this estimate, is that it states that these sales will take place within a 5-year home console lifecycle.
While the estimate has some sound reasoning behind it in terms of the ratio by which Sony will outsell Microsoft in hardware units, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about this forecast.
History Repeats Itself?
The prediction was made from a source from Sony’s backend supply chain in Taiwan,
The life cycle for household game consoles may be shortened to five years from 6-7 years, and PS5 shipments may challenge 120-170 million units when its 5-year cycle expires, compared to 110 million units registered to date for PS4 launched in November 2013, the sources said, adding that Sony has recently boosted its PS5 shipment estimate for 2020 to near 10 million units.- Digitimes.com
The numbers are impressive, perhaps too impressive. The current cycle has been seven years long, and Sony has had an incredible run of success in it. Even though it has outsold Microsoft by a greater than 2-1 margin, the numbered tally for the PlayStation 4 sales remains at 110-112 million.
That’s an average of 15-16 million PlayStation 4 consoles on a yearly basis. For the predicted number of sales for the PS5, Sony would have to sale a whooping 24 million units of the console yearly. That number is an exceedingly difficult one to achieve in today’s market.
For starters, in the last 15 years the Home Console market has remained more or less steady in its sales numbers. In the previous generation Sony sold around 87 million PS3s to Microsoft’s 84 million Xbox 360 units. That was an 8-year long home console life cycle (might be the longest one we have had), and both companies sold about 171 million home consoles combined.
So far today, Sony and Microsoft have sold around 160 million units of their current home consoles in combined sales. That number is not vastly different from the previous one, and one could see that number rising to 165 million units before the door closes on this generation permanently.
So, their numbers have remained the same, with a slightly lower number this time around as Microsoft had one year less (7 as opposed to 8) to move around their units than they did with the 360.
Under those circumstances is not far fetched that both Sony and Microsoft could sale a combined 180 units of next gen consoles, given the proper time. Five years, however, seems like an awful short time in an era were PC, and Mobile devices have stolen some potential customers for both Hardware Manufacturers.
The X Factor
Has always been Nintendo, whether they are winning or on the losing side. The company sold about 13.56 million units of their current gen Wii U console. Adding those numbers to the tally one can say that the Home Console Market has been steadily growing (and it would be a right take depending on the argument being made). But, the the Wii sold 101 million units in the previous generation, though I consider that console an outlier (it nabbed a lot of casual people that usually do not buy home consoles).
Still, the Nintendo Switch has sold about 60 million units in 3 years (though it isn’t a home console), so the market is healthy enough, for both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X to do equal or better numbers than before, but I feel five years is a short time.
Why Sony Might Have Thrown Around those Estimates
The PS2 sold 157 million units in 6 years. The PS4 has encountered the same dominant success that Sony had in the 90’s with their original PlayStation home console. The PS2 hype was massive then, and we saw the end result.
The PS5 hype is huge (though not as big as the PS2’s was 20 years ago), so it is likely that Sony will find massive success with it, but 120 million in five years? We will have to wait and see. Pricing has yet to be announced for both next gen systems, and that could play a huge factor in sales.