Wedbush Securities Analyst Michael Pachter, whose predictions regarding the gaming industry are well-renowned or notorious, depending who you ask, believes Sony’s next-generation PlayStation 5 will release in 2019.
Sony has been vague about its plans. Shawn Layden, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, assured gamers in a March interview with golem.de that a PS5 would be forthcoming, but did not offer specifics as to the timing of its launch or the nature of its hardware.
Pachter predicts Sony will launch its next-gen console when the 4K TV accounts for 50% of the US market and 35% of the global market. Most experts believe that will happen by 2019, but it could take until 2020.
4K is the next iteration of high definition technology, featuring resolutions four times those of today’s conventional 1080p screens. To the naked eye, the difference is almost imperceptible, but prices are falling so quickly that 4K is rapidly becoming, for all intents and purposes, consumers’ only option.
In 2014, a 4K TV cost upwards of $4,000. That year, just 10.2 million 4K TVs were sold worldwide.
Today, those who want to can still drop a few grand on a 65’’ 4K TV, but a buyer on a budget can find smaller ones for under $500. 81.9 million 4K TVs have been sold around the globe this year—already over 150% more than were sold in 2016. Even in 2016, though, three out of every four 55’’ plus TVs sold in were 4K TVs
Of course, that does not mean that three out of four Americans currently watch 4K TVs in their living rooms—most people who have not bought a TV within the last year or so still have standard HDTVs—but about 20% of American households now have 4K TVs.
When that number climbs to 50%, the PlayStation 5 will launch, Pachter claims.
Many games slated to release in the latter half of 2017 will be optimized for 4K TVs. Some games, such as Forza Motorsports 7, will include in excess of 100 GB of data, much of which is for 4K optimization purposes. Owners of the new consoles without 4K TVs will be forced to clog their hard drives with tens of gigabytes of data they are not even using.
So it is easy to see why Sony might wish to wait until a majority of Americans can enjoy the full capabilities of the new technology before launching its next-gen console. PlayStation 5 games will be data behemoths, and if most consumers are unable to make use of some sizable portion of the data the games hold, it does not make sense to require gamers to download such huge games.
As bold as Pachter’s predictions are, his track record is a mixed bag. When Madden NFL 07, which was among the first games developed for the Xbox 360 and PS3, was released in August 2006, Pachter said, “it could do one million copies in 5 days.” In its first week, the game sold over two million copies across all platforms.
However, Pachter predicted the wave of consoles that hit the market in the mid-2000s (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, etc.) would be the last one. Here he is, over a decade later, daring to predict the release date of Sony’s PS5 with remarkable detail.
Of course, gamers probably know in the bottom of their hearts that they ought to take Pachter’s words with a grain of salt. But as the current console generation inches forward one letter at a time—S then X then, Slim then Pro—gamers thirst for that one giant leap that will push video games into the future. And the console manufacturers themselves remain tight-lipped.
So when someone like Michael Pachter comes along and says the great leap is imminent, or at least on the horizon, it is hard not to keep at least one ear open.