Fresh hope for Kiwi gamers as Sony announces production boost for PlayStation 5 console

Sony PlayStation 5
Since going on sale in November 2020, the PS5 has been largely out of stock in Aotearoa. Photo credit: Getty Images

Kiwis hoping to finally land a PlayStation 5 console may be in luck after Sony said it plans to ramp up production of its largely out-of-stock console as supply chain snarls ease.

The Japanese technology giant also signalled a radical broadening of its games portfolio including more titles on PC and mobile.

The PS5, which went on sale in November 2020, undersold its predecessor in its second year due to component shortages which have roiled the electronics industry. But it is expected to close the gap in year three and overtake PS4's install base the following year.

For much of the time since its launch in Aotearoa, the PS5 has been out of stock.

That has led to a booming secondary market on the likes of TradeMe and Facebook Marketplace, with consoles going for a significant premium above their normal selling price.

PlayStation's advice to Kiwi gamers last year hoping to secure a console was to stay in touch with their local retailer for updates. How long it'll take the increased production to reach New Zealand isn't known yet.

Microsoft's Xbox Series X console has also been difficult to buy in Aotearoa, although the Series S console, which has no disc drive, is currently available here.

The shortage of consoles had previously forced Sony to extend production of the previous generation PS4 console until the end of this year.

It had originally planned to discontinue production at the end of 2021, but informed its partners it would continue to make the popular console for another year.

Beyond the initial ramp up "we're planning for heavy further increases in console production, taking us to production levels that we've never achieved before," Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told an investor briefing.

While COVID-19 lockdowns in China continue to create supply chain uncertainty, "things are definitely improving," he added.

Sony has forecast PS5 sales of 18 million units in the business year to end-March compared to 11.5 million a year earlier.

Outlining a shift by PlayStation away from just concentrating on single player games exclusive to its platform, Ryan said more PC and mobile titles will be on offer in addition to live service games, which provide continuous updated play.

While PS4 and PS5 titles are expected to make up more than two-thirds of releases this year, PC and mobile titles will make up almost half of new games in 2025.

"The initiatives to broaden our audience... will have a fundamental effect on the shape of our game portfolio," Ryan said.

With the shift, PlayStation is aiming to keep pace with industry change that has seen cloud technology and the increased computing power of smartphones untether users from bulky hardware and more money spent by gamers in free-to-play online titles.

Amid much speculation that the metaverse, or the idea users will spend more time in simulated environments, will upend industry business models, Ryan said many consumers will continue to play games as before.

"There will be many, many individual players who prefer to enjoy games in the way that they have played them from the past 30 years or more," he said.

Newshub / Reuters