SINGAPORE - The next-generation gaming console war sporting more life-like graphics has officially arrived, with Sony's PlayStation 5 (PS5) set to go head to head with Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Series S this November.
Sony announced the price and release date for its PS5 in a live stream on Thursday (Sept 17) morning Singapore time, ending months of speculation from gamers and the media alike.
The standard PS5 will cost S$729, while the digital edition, which comes without a Blu-ray disc drive, will cost $599.
Both devices will launch first on Nov 12 in seven countries including the United States, Japan and South Korea, and on Nov 19 for the rest of the world, including Singapore.
Consumers in Singapore will be able to make pre-orders from Friday, both online and in-person at electronics and gaming stores such as Courts, Harvey Norman and Toy or Game.
The digital edition of the PS5 is Sony's first PlayStation to launch without a disc drive.
"We feel that we're giving gamers who buy a PS5, a console that is future-proof and will (still) be relevant in two to three years' time," said Sony Interactive Entertainment chief Jim Ryan in an interview exclusive to The Straits Times in South-east Asia.
"Based on the most recent data that we published (in August), more than two-thirds of PlayStation games were purchased digitally so that trend is undeniable."
Sony's digital software and add-on content sales from April to June amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic rose 83 per cent, compared with the same period last year.
But the pandemic also severely complicated Sony's production and launch plans for the PS5, said Mr Ryan, who was speaking via a video call from the United Kingdom.
"Everything just went absolutely crazy when Covid-19 hit. In March or April we were wondering if we would be able to have a launch at all," he said.
"And then after that we started to think about the demand situation, and whether anyone would be able to go outdoors to buy a PS5 and whether there would be any stores open to sell them."
Sony denied on Tuesday that it had run into manufacturing problems for the PS5, following a Bloomberg report that said the company was planning to reduce its launch production by 4 million units, nearly half the 10 million units it initially planned to produce by the end of this year.
The Japanese electronics giant had been widely expected to reveal the PS5 price and launch dates in response to its rival Microsoft, which did the same for its Xbox Series X and Series S last week.
The Xbox Series X is marginally cheaper than the PS5 at $699, while the less powerful Series S costs $459. Both are launching on Nov 10.
Thursday's live stream, which drew a peak of nearly 1.1 million concurrent viewers, also further fleshed out the line-up of games consumers can expect for the PS5, including a range of console exclusives.
New instalments of the popular Final Fantasy and God of War franchises will be console exclusives for the PS5, with the latter expected to be released next year.
Fans also got an extended look at gameplay for Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which will launch alongside the PS5 on Nov 12, and a new Harry-Potter themed title called Hogwarts Legacy that will be released next year.
A console that is priced higher than its competitor will always be a tough sell but exclusive games are equally important for consumers, said Mr Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst at gaming market researchers Niko Partners.
Mr Daniel gave Sony the edge over Microsoft to begin with as the console war kicks off.
"Sony has not just ensured that current PS4 owners will be able to smoothly transition over to the (PS5), but also... (offered) a way for new PS5 users to have a robust games library on Day 1," he said.
Gaming and e-sports analytics firm Newzoo's market lead for games Tom Wijman said customer loyalty plays a significant part as well.
"Consumers that have bought into PlayStation or Xbox before are most likely to make the same choice, especially now that both consoles are backwards compatible (with older games on previous-generation consoles)," he added.
An earlier version of this story said Sony's digital software sales from April to June rose 83 per cent compared with the same period last year. Sony clarified that the figure also includes sales from digital add-on content.