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Report: Sony is tackling PS5 shortage with more PS4s

Mind the (generational) gap.

Bloomberg News is reporting that Sony is making moves to ramp up more PlayStation manufacturing--just not for the PlayStation 5s. 

To address difficulties in getting more PS5s to market, Sony apparently intends to extend its manufacturing plans for last generation's PlayStation 4. The goal seems to be to help satiate the high demand for consoles by making more PS4s available, and continuing to ship new titles (like Horizon Forbidden West) across both devices.

This seems to run counter to some of Sony's initial messaging about what players and developers could expect from Sony's transition to the next console generation. Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan previously stated "we believe in generations" when discussing moves from one console to the next. 

Bloomberg's sources also claim that Sony had plans to start ramping down PS4 production in 2021, but continued difficulty in getting PS5s produced and in the hands of users has disrupted those plans. It's slightly hard to believe that Sony was making plans to draw down PS4 production so quickly, since the PlayStation 3 was discontinued in several countries in 2015, but was still in production through 2017 in Japan, but maybe Sony was just that optimistic about the PS5.

Those disruptions are driven by three components, all influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. There's an increased demand for consoles (that's hitting Microsoft's Xbox sales too), a shortage of essential hardware needed to create new consoles (and shipping solutions to move them across the ocean), and the increased power of scalpers using automated tools to snatch up devices from retailers.

The hope seems to be that increasing PS4 production can take pressure off of each of these challenges. Cross-generation support for new games means that some players can abandon their quests for PS5 devices and get new PS4s. PS4s don't need the same advanced chips that PS5s do, and fresh supply of the nearly 9-year-old console wouldn't be as badly impacted by scalper bots.

There's also some manufacturing scuttlebutt buried in this report as well. Increased purchases of PS4s from factories apparently gives Sony leeway in its negotiations as well.

Sony does have one disadvantage in this cross-generation strategy and it's the lack of a dedicated cloud play system for newer titles. Xbox is moving at rapid speed to ensure that Xbox One devices can use Xbox Cloud Play to allow players access to newer titles. Without similar technology, Sony will need to make sure its modern games can run on a nearly decade-old console as well. 

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