Sony’s PlayStation 5 Is Entering the ‘Latter Stage of Its Life Cycle’: What That Means

Game consoles don’t last forever, but the Sony PlayStation 5 isn’t your average game console. When it was released in 2020, it saw so much demand that the Japanese gaming giant took three years to finally make enough available consoles for all the eager buyers. 

But every console has a life span. On Wednesday, Sony announced that its 4-year-old PlayStation 5 was missing sales targets, and that it will likely struggle even more this year. The company saw weaker-than-expected holiday sales, and cut its PS5 sales forecast for the year ending in March to 21 million units, down from an expected 25 million. The company also said it expects a gradual decline in unit sales in the next financial year, in part because it doesn’t plan to release any of its own major franchise titles during that time. 

“Looking ahead, PS5 will enter the latter stage of its life cycle,” Naomi Matsuouka, Sony senior vice president, said in a conference call, as reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Whenever any gaming executive discusses the future of consoles like the PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox Series X or Nintendo Switch, consumers take notice. These machines cost hundreds of dollars, with games running around $70. To make those purchases feel worthwhile, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony aim to offer major console upgrades about every seven years. 

Sony’s plans for the PS5

Sony’s statement didn’t define what exactly it means for the PS5 to enter “the latter stage of its life cycle,” other than to say that it will “put more emphasis on the balance between profitability and sales.” And the company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The good news is that broadly, Sony has offered years of support for older consoles. The PS5, for example, can play “an overwhelming majority” of PS4 games, no matter if they were bought on disc or digital.  We don’t know yet if the inevitable PlayStation 6 will offer the same capabilities, but it’s likely Sony will want to keep that feature.

It’s also not clear why Sony decided to share this news with so little detail, as it certainly knows gamers will grab on to any tidbit about their console of choice. 

To buy or not to buy

If you’re considering a PlayStation 5, now may be a great time to buy one, or at least consider it.

A key reason for that is if you don’t already own a PlayStation 5, you probably won’t be buying a PlayStation 6 whenever it launches. The only reason to wait at this point would be to hold out for inevitable holiday sales. Or you might want to buy a used PlayStation 5 from someone upgrading, which is a thing you can do.

If you do buy a PlayStation 5, you’ll be getting access to a wide array of well-regarded titles, including exclusives like the Spider-Man games, The Last of Us, Uncharted, God of War and Horizon, to name a few.

PlayStation 6 and other consoles to come

If the PlayStation 5 is entering the end of its life cycle, that would seem to indicate the PlayStation 6 is around the corner. There was so much concern about this that even internet fact-checking site Snopes got in on the conversation. It may seem ironic, then, that when faced with the question of whether the PS6 was imminent, the best answer Snopes could come up with was, “Probably not.”

As Snopes points out, Microsoft and Nintendo are both rumored to be releasing new gaming products this year.  If those rumors are true, Sony may feel a need to try to release something in response. 

Microsoft: X marks the spot

Microsoft accidentally leaked its Xbox plans in a cache of legal documents, including news of a disc-less Xbox code-named “Brooklin” that’s shaped like a cylinder (but not a trash can). It’s supposed to have more storage and use less energy.

Nintendo: Switching to the Switch 2

Nintendo, meanwhile, is riding high on its popular Switch console after selling more than 130 million units and more than 1 billion games since its launch seven years ago, (Animal Crossing: New Horizons was the sanity-saver of the 2020 pandemic for many.)  Rumors have mostly revolved around the Switch 2, a beefed-up version of the current handheld console. 

PlayStation 5 games for 2024

Sony also said it does not have any big games made by its internal development studios planned for this year. But let’s be clear, there are still some big games coming to the PlayStation 5. The biggest one is Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, the second installment in the epic remake of one of the video game industry’s most beloved titles.

Sony is also planning to release a remaster of The Last of Us Part II, which will conveniently land ahead of the planned second season of the hit HBO show  The Last of Us, starring Pedro Pascal (of The Mandalorian fame) and Bella Ramsey (a standout from Game of Thrones).

That said, it’s a slower pace than 2023, which was considered one of the best years in game release history, with hit titles like Spider-Man 2 from Sony, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom from Nintendo and Starfield from Microsoft.

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