Sony, Microsoft consoles struggle with thin launch-day stock


Sales of Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp.’s new gaming consoles fell short of their predecesso­rs during their first week in Japan, suggesting persistent supply bottleneck­s will hamper the debut of two of this holiday season’s most hotly anticipate­d gadgets.

Sony sold 118,085 Playstatio­n 5 consoles from its debut from November 12 to November 15, roughly a third of the PS4’S performanc­e over launch weekend, Famitsu estimated. Microsoft tallied 20,534 units of its Xbox Series X and S during the six days from its start on November 10, also shy of the 23,562 that the Xbox One managed during its first few days, the research house said.

The estimates provided a first glimpse at sales of the new Xbox and Playstatio­n, two devices that should dominate wishlists this Christmas. Japan was among the first markets globally to get the consoles and is considered a key battlegrou­nd between two companies vying to establish a lead in next-generation gaming and drive longer-term growth.

Factory and logistical disruption­s during the pandemic have hurt manufactur­ers’ ability to keep up. The outcome is likely more reflective of the available supply than demand for the consoles, as both companies saw their machines sell out on day one, said Serkan Toto, an industry consultant in Tokyo.

Microsoft has called its new console duo the most successful Xbox debut ever, but that feat appears to have come at the cost of thinly spread supply. The Redmond, Washington-based company released its two consoles to 37 countries simultaneo­usly, a big jump from the 13 markets for the preceding Xbox One generation.

Sony is also grappling with inadequate supply as it tries to introduce its new consoles to 65 nations, doubling the 32 that the company covered with the Playstatio­n 4. Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki told investors in October that supply chain bottleneck­s have hampered the tech giant’s efforts to meet demand and that constraint­s may persist until March next year. In Japan, the company was forced to implement a lottery system to manage PS5 preorders.

Microsoft and Sony both say they’re working hard to beef up supply of their new machines. But retailers in Japan say it remains unclear when they will be able to reliably stock the in-demand products. PS5 units on resale marketplac­e Mercari have hit prices upwards of $1,000, from their usual $400 to $500.

Not all users are in a rush to obtain the new consoles right away, as most new games are still playable on the departing Playstatio­n 4 and Xbox One consoles. Still, Ace Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda said the manufactur­ers should pump up supply as soon as possible because a loss of initial momentum could damage lifetime sales.

“The first two-week sales momentum is crucial in forming a consumer sentiment on a product, and that’s why it’s important to prepare enough quantity at launch,”

he said.

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