Sony has few battles left to win in the build-up to the PlayStation 4’s launch. It’s already outmanoeuvred Microsoft on price and policies, and it’s reaping the rewards in pre-order numbers as a result. However, while the platform holder is riding high on a chorus of consumer goodwill at the moment, it must maintain its momentum in several key skirmishes prior to the console’s release. And among those small scuffles lingers the minor matter of a date. But when will the next generation console deploy, and will the Japanese giant be able to catch its competitor off guard with yet another crushing blow?
Microsoft has certainly left itself wide-open for a hardware haymaker by confirming that the Xbox One will ship in November. While there’s nothing stopping the company from changing its mind – it’s the master of reversals, after all – the confirmation gives Sony a little more intelligence to work with. And given its current penchant for outwitting its adversary at every opportunity, we suspect that the firm will slip in front of the wriggling Redmond-based outfit, and commit its platform to a late October launch.
It actually makes sense when you think about it, too. While we still don’t have a date for Gran Turismo 6, fellow PlayStation 3 swansong Beyond: Two Souls is set to send the industry on a spiritual excursion on 8th October. That gives the company a few weeks to properly market the adult adventure before fully switching its attention to the PS4, which we suspect will crash onto store shelves on 29th October in North America.
The aforementioned date is a solid selection for an assortment of reasons, and not just because it could give Sony the jump on the Xbox One. For starters, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Battlefield 4 are set to race into retailers on that day, and both of which are set to secure next generation ports. Assuming that Sony does indeed beat Microsoft’s machine into the shops, the move would likely provide it the defacto exclusive on the enhanced editions of the hotly anticipated titles, augmenting the system with yet another sneaky advantage. Furthermore, it would ensure that the system is in the wild prior to 2013’s other big blockbusters: Watch Dogs and Call of Duty: Ghosts.
There are other benefits associated with launching in late October, though. While the furore surrounding the system may have faded by the time that the Thanksgiving holidays roll around, that will provide the PlayStation maker with ample opportunity to restore its inventory. The system will almost certainly sell-out at launch, but the manufacturer will want to ensure that stock is readily available come Black Friday. Holding the hardware back until mid-November will make that difficult to achieve.
Of course, there are a few disadvantages, too. For example, the sooner that the system reaches cash registers, the less time developers will have to spend on the console’s launch games. While that may not be a problem for the likes of Guerrilla Games – as we mentioned in a recent hands-on preview, Killzone: Shadow Fall already looks the part – titles such as DriveClub could suffer as a consequence. According to Evolution Studios, the social racer is only 35 per cent complete at the moment. A late October release would give the company just three months to finish off the game, which doesn’t seem particularly feasible, does it?
Still, the platform holder will have a much better understanding of its internal situation, and will know if its software and manufacturing teams can meet the late October deadline. Assuming that they can, the only major negative on 29th October’s side is its distinct lack of marketing appeal. A date such as 12th November (formatted ‘11/12/13’ in North America) has a much more memorable hook to it, and would look great on billboards and in magazines. Is it worth being late for three of the biggest launches of the year, though?
Realistically, Sony will not have too many problems prompting people to take notice of its platform whenever it deploys. However, it can strengthen its position by shipping the system at the right time, and we happen to think that that falls in late October. But while we’ve outlined the advantages (and disadvantages) of that over the previous paragraphs, we’re fast approaching a point where the company will be forced to make up its mind. With both GamesCom and the Tokyo Game Show rapidly approaching – the most likely venues for a release date reveal – we just hope that the firm’s circled the right day on its internal calendar.
When do you think that you’ll be able to get your grubby paws on the PS4? How do you intend to keep yourself occupied while you wait? Let us know in the comments section below.
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