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Xbox Series X, PS5: The fate of consoles in the face of coronavirus

Xbox Series X PS5 coronavirus
(Image credit: Chesnot/Getty Images)

With Xbox Series X and PS5 news spreading like wildfire through official press releases or incredibly obscure leaks, the hype is real. But, considering that everything under the sun is getting delayed or canceled because of the novel coronavirus, we’re having some serious doubts about whether or not the Xbox Series X and PS5 are going to make their projected Holiday 2020 launch date.

If the next-gen consoles are affected by the coronavirus, what does that mean for you? Are they going to be in limited quantity on launch? Or are the consoles going to get outright pushed to 2021? And how are Microsoft and Sony going to be affected by said delays or shortages when they do arrive?

Here’s everything we’ve gleaned from analysts so far about the fate of the Xbox Series X and PS5.

Xbox Series X and PS5: IDC prediction

We reached out to Lewis Ward, IDC Research Director of Gaming and VR/AR, to gather his preliminary thoughts about the future of the consoles. Production in China has slowed down across the board concerning many high-tech devices.

Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Microsoft)

“We currently expect China’s supply chains and production facilities to take about six months to get back on track, but it’s a fluid situation, and the specifics around console impacts are few and far between,” Ward said. “I currently expect both PS5 and Xbox Series X to debut in Q4 2020, but in smaller volumes than originally planned.” 

So, what does that mean for you? Well, if you’re set on buying the Xbox Series X and PS5 on the day they launch, you'll want to have your wallets at the ready when the companies announce pre-orders. However, given the current state of the economy, and if the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen through Q2 2020, Ward predicts that Microsoft and Sony could push the launch to 2021.

“Production may have recovered in time to get these systems out there, but it may come across as tone-deaf from a marketing angle to launch [in Q4 2020], unless the worst of the pandemic is clearly behind the vast majority of countries by September,” Ward said. “If major economies like the US and Japan and much of Western Europe are in recession this holiday season, it may make economic sense to push these new console releases to 2021, when gamers will presumably be in a better position economically.”

Xbox Series X specs

(Image credit: Microsoft)

This is already likely to be one of the toughest transitions from generation to generation. As enticing as these consoles will be, I can’t see many gamers lining up (virtually -- for now, don’t go outside) to buy a console with limited exclusives when they can use the consoles they have now to play newer games, like Cyberpunk 2077. And while self-quarantining means people have more time for gaming, Ward suspects that, in a recession, gamers will be holding onto their money and turn to free-to-play games. 

“Needless to say, if PS5 and Xbox Series X do arrive this holiday season as I expect, they’ll probably be the biggest online-focused launches of gaming devices in history,” Ward said. “Microsoft and Sony’s digital marketing chops will be put to the test in a way they’ve never been to date.”

We suspect the consoles will still be priced at $499, and Ward anticipates the same, for now at least. When it gets closer to E3, we imagine that we’ll have a better idea about how the Xbox Series X and PS5 will be positioned for their projected launch dates.

Xbox Series X and PS5: DFC Intelligence prediction

Recently, DFC Intelligence released a statement to Forbes about the future of the Xbox Series X and PS5, stating that the virus could limit the stock of the consoles and cause potential delays.

(Image credit: charnsitr / Shutterstock.com)

“Coronavirus is likely to have a major short-term impact on the delivery of both systems. There is a strong likelihood one or both systems will not make a 2020 launch. If the systems do launch, supply will likely be constrained and initial pricing could be higher than expected,” the firm wrote.

Working on a low supply is tough enough, but if the Xbox Series X and PS5 both land above projected pricing (~$499), it would have a detrimental effect on how these consoles sell and the transition to next-gen consoles.

The firm continued, “Currently the economy is in an unprecedented state of uncertainty. Even if the situation clears up in a few weeks, the ability to manufacture and release a high-end new game system has already been severely impacted.”

So, regardless of whether or not the Xbox Series X and PS5 get delayed, production has been impacted in some form or another and we’re likely to see the consequences of that in the coming months or closer to the projected launch window.

Future of Xbox Series X and PS5

The key takeaway from these analyses is that you need to be the fastest clicker in the west with money ready to go in order to buy on the Xbox Series X or PS5. If, for some reason, they’re not delayed, then they’re bound to be sold in very -- and I cannot stress this enough -- limited quantities. 

Good luck, fellow online shoppers. I shall see you on the battlefield in the most convenient online store to buy said consoles, and we’ll see who’s faster at clicking that buy button (please show up 10 minutes late, k thanks).