When the PlayStation 4 first launched, it saw a staggered release between the console’s major markets. While the system was released on the 15th of November 2013 in North America, PAL regions had to wait another two weeks (29th of November) to get their hands on the system. In the console’s home country – Japan – fans were left in the dark for over 3 months, not receiving the system until the 22nd of February the following year. According to Sony Interactive Entertainment’s president, Jim Ryan, the company won’t be making the same mistake a second time.
In a recent interview with Business Insider Japan (and translated by Gematsu), Ryan was asked about the Japanese release window for the upcoming console, and whether PlayStation would be sticking to the same strategy that it did with the PS4. In response, Ryan admits that “I cannot comment on the timing of release or launch markets. However, the three-month delay for the release of PlayStation 4 in Japan was a decision that I was deeply involved in.”
With that first-hand perspective in mind, Ryan claims that “[t]here was reasonable ground for that decision, but these days I do not think that was a good idea. It was a decision made after much debate, but there may have been other options.”
While correlation doesn't equal causation, there is evidence to suggest that this staggered release may have hurt the console’s performance in its home market. Total console sales for the PlayStation 4 in Japan currently sit at 8.67 million units sold, as of the 21st of December 2019. The Nintendo Switch meanwhile, which released concurrently across all major markets, has seen total sales reaching 11.15 million units, despite releasing 3 years after the PS4. Furthermore, the PlayStation 3, which sold less than the PS4 worldwide, but launched first in Japan, sold better in Japan, with 10.47 million units (compared to the PS4’s 8.67 million).
The PlayStation 5 may not suffer the same fate, especially with Jim Ryan’s new globalised initiative. Back in November, Ryan discussed the streamlining of PlayStation’s three major markets: America, Europe and Japan, saying that “If we are to be successful, we really have to leverage the opportunities that globalisation brings”. It would appear that one of these opportunities may be to release the console concurrently worldwide.
Sony’s strategy for the PlayStation 5 will likely be revealed soon, as the marketing wheels for the upcoming console begins to turn – including the recent reveal of the logo. Ryan addressed the logo, among other aspects of the PlayStation 5 in the same interview, which can be read HERE.
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KitGuru says: What do you think of the way in which PlayStation have been handling the PS5 so far? Do you think releasing the PS4 in Japan 3 months later than the West was a mistake? When do you think the PlayStation 5 will be released? Let us know down below.