Sony and Xbox games strategies diverge as Cloud streaming shapes future

Monday, October 5th, 2020
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Strategy Analytics: Sony and Xbox Games Strategies Diverge As Cloud Streaming Shapes Future Platforms

  • PS5 Global Installed Base Will Be 71% Higher Than Series X/S In 2025

BOSTON — The next battle in the 50-year-old games console wars will be shaped by the increasingly contrasting strategies of the two leading players, Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics. The report, Global Game Console Forecast 2012-2025, notes that Sony remains squarely focused on improving the gaming experience on the large screen, while Microsoft is more concerned with making games available across as many devices as possible.

Next Generation Game Consoles Shipment Forecasts - Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S - 2020-2025

Business models are also diverging, as Xbox moves towards subscriptions while Sony retains the traditional pay-once approach. Both companies will launch new consoles this quarter, and the research predicts that Sony will again lead Microsoft on a global basis, with the installed base of PS5 consoles reaching 69.1 million in 2025, compared to 40.4 million Xbox Series X/S devices. Assessing the overall winner, however, will be a more complex task as the video games business will become increasingly anchored in cloud gaming and multiscreen strategies.

The research predicts that global shipments of PS5s will reach 4.6 million units by the end of 2020, compared to 3.9 million Xbox Series X/S devices. Xbox Series X/S shipments will peak in 2024 at 10.0 million while PS5s will hit their peak level of 16.5 million in 2023-24.

“Microsoft has now clearly adopted a multiscreen strategy based on cloud gaming, with Xbox Game Pass as the hub of its customer relationships,” says Michael Goodman, Director, TV & Media Strategies. “As long as its titles appeal to users of smartphones and PCs as well as consoles, it stands a good chance of making a long-term success of its subscription business model. But it faces a number of challenges, not least in persuading games publishers of their incremental revenue opportunity.”

David Watkins, Director, Connected Home Devices, adds: “Sony has won the last several head-to-heads with Xbox and sees no reason to move away from its long-established focus on delivering the ultimate big screen experience. But it should also carefully monitor changes in gaming behavior across the entire market to ensure that growth opportunities are not being missed.”

The analysts identify a number of additional issues which will shape the games industry over the coming decade and beyond, including:

  • How does the relative perceived value of games vary according to screen size and user experience?
  • How many people would be willing to pay different monthly fees to access games on a subscription basis and which factors determine this acceptance?
  • How will the games development, publishing and distribution ecosystem evolve in response to changes in demand and business models?