Tech

Sony says PlayStation 5 still on track for 2020 holiday season despite coronavirus as profit slumps

Key Points
  • Sony confirmed on Wednesday that the PlayStation 5 console is still on track for release in time for the 2020 holiday season, despite the "challenges" presented by the global coronavirus pandemic. 
  • "At this point in time major problems have not arisen in the game software development" for PlayStation 5 games, Sony said.
  • Sony reported a 57% drop in operating profit to 35.4 billion Japanese yen ($330.7 million) for its fiscal quarter. 
In this photo illustration the PlayStation 5 logo seen displayed on a smartphone.
Rafael Henrique | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Sony said its flagship PlayStation 5 gaming console is still on track for release in time for the 2020 holiday season, despite the "challenges" presented by the global coronavirus pandemic. 

"Regarding the launch of PlayStation 5, although factors such as employees working from home and restrictions on international travel have presented some challenges in regards to part of the testing process and the qualification of production lines, development is progressing with the launch of the console scheduled for the 2020 holiday season," the Japanese electronics giant said.

"At this point in time major problems have not arisen in the game software development pipeline for Sony's own first-party studios or its partners' studios."

The next generation console is scheduled to launch seven years after its predecessor the PlayStation 4. The PlayStation 5 is also poised to revive sales in Sony's huge gaming business, which dragged down its financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter ended March 31.

Sony reported a 57% drop in operating profit to 35.4 billion Japanese yen ($330.7 million), which the company attributed to a fall in income from its gaming and consumer electronics divisions.

However, operating profit in its gaming unit fell less than expected and came in at 46.2 billion yen for the March quarter. Analysts had forecast a fall in revenue and profit, which is natural given the console has been around for several years and a successor is set to be released later this year.

With a number of countries introducing coronavirus containment measures over the past two months, people have been spending more time at home. This actually helped to soften the blow on Sony's gaming business.

The company added 2.7 million PS Plus users in the March quarter compared with the December quarter. PS Plus is a $60 per year subscription service that allows PlayStation users to play online. Meanwhile, 66% of game sales in the March quarter came through digital downloads, up from 45% in the same period last year. 

Still, the company declined to give an outlook for the current fiscal year because the "uncertainties caused by the spread of COVID-19 have hindered Sony's ability to reasonably forecast its future earnings."

Sony's PlayStation 5 will go head to head with Microsoft's Xbox Series X console which is also slated for release during this year's holiday season. Microsoft executive vice president of gaming and head of Xbox Phil Spencer told CNBC in April that coronavirus won't impact when it launches its next generation game console.

Over the past few weeks, both Sony and Microsoft have been dropping details about their upcoming consoles, from the games that will be available to what the controllers will look like.