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Rumor Report: Xbox and PS5 release date

The release dates of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X may be seeing delays. While both systems were originally planned to have a retail release window of some time in the later part of this year, it's looking more and more like that's no longer a realistic goal.

Forbes has shared a notice from market research group DFC Intelligence, which has been monitoring the situation closely. As with many other industries at the moment, much of the uncertainty surrounding Sony and Microsoft's next moves can be traced back to public health concerns, specifically thanks to the current coronavirus outbreak.

"Coronavirus is likely to have a major short-term impact on the delivery of both systems," read the note from DFC Intelligence. "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 added, "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."

In other words, unless Sony and Microsoft are prepared to risk huge losses, it's looking more and more like we won't be seeing these new systems until some time in 2021. This pretty much lines up with projections we've heard before. Just last month, investment and financial services company Jefferies Group posited that shutdowns of manufacturing plants and other concerns over the scarcity of materials may lead to the release windows of these consoles being significantly pushed back.

As the note from Jefferies Group read, "If [company] shutdowns exceed a month or so, game schedules will be delayed. New consoles may likewise suffer supply issues from a prolonged disruption, ahead of their Fall 2020 planned launches."

It has been reported previously that the PlayStation 5 is using materials commonly seen in high-end smartphones, which is likely to crank up the retail price significantly for the new console. After all, Sony has to recoup its losses from investing in more expensive materials. Now that there are reports of smartphone shipments being delayed due to coronavirus concerns, it would not be a huge surprise to see these shortages further affecting the production of next gen consoles and their peripherals.

The pressure is now on to not only deliver a quality product, but to make it live up to consumer expectations, especially if the price tag is going to be hefty. As Macquarie Capital analyst Damian Thong put it, "Consumers will benchmark their expectations based on the PS4 Pro and PS4. If Sony prices above that, it would likely be to balance a need to offset higher materials cost, against risk to demand."

At this point, it appears as though production costs are the main obstacles between Sony and Microsoft announcing official release dates and prices. While a delay isn't ideal for either company, it may end up being the lesser evil when compared to how much money each stands to lose by releasing a cost-prohibitive system during a time of economic uncertainty.

All is not gloom and doom, depending on how you look at it. Even with these concerns over meeting the projected release windows, DFC Intelligence remains certain that the two consoles will still sell beyond expectations. 

"The good news is that consumer demand is likely to be stronger than ever," read the note from DFC Intelligence. "Demand will far exceed supply and long-term that could increase overall sales. In addition, the abundance of government and public caution should help assure this is a comparatively short-term crisis. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will release to record consumer demand."

In other words, DFC Intelligence is positive that the pandemic will be contained in the near future and people will be ready and happy to turn out in droves for the new console launches. While sales would likely see a dive in the short term, it's likely that people would come around once things have settled down. With that level of expectation comes a certain set of standards, however.

The note continues, "The challenge Sony and Microsoft face are making sure they release systems that meet expectations. Given the current situation, waiting to make sure they get the initial product right is the most prudent choice."

As with any delay, the hope here is that both companies would take the time to make the final products the very best they can be. In the meantime, we will be sure to keep an eye out for any concrete release date announcements.