How Long Will PS4 Be Supported After PS5 Release?

According to Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan, the company expects to continue supporting the PS4 for 3-4 years following the launch of the PlayStation 5 in late 2020. That puts the likely conclusion of PS4 support sometime in 2024-2024.

The PlayStation 4 Generation Has Been a Massive Financial Success for Sony

As an industry analyst, the PlayStation 4 generation has been a boon for Sony both in terms of units sold and revenue generated. To date, over 117.2 million PS4 consoles have been sold globally since launch in 2013, including the slimmer base PS4, the PS4 Pro, and digital editions. The PS4 consistently dominated monthly sales charts, outselling rival Microsoft‘s Xbox One consoles by over 2-to-1 throughout its lifecycle.

In terms of game sales, the PS4 has seen over 1.6 billion games sold as of 2021 according to Sony. Massively popular exclusives like 2018‘s Marvel‘s Spider-Man sold over 20 million units alone. When examining the numbers, it‘s clear the PS4 will go down as one of Sony‘s most commercially successful gaming platforms ever.

PlayStation 4 Lifetime Sales Figures

Year PS4 Units Sold PS4 Games Sold
2014 14.4 million N/A
2015 35.9 million 413.5 million
2016 53.4 million 608.9 million
2017 73.6 million 917.8 million
2018 91.6 million 1.181 billion
2019 106.0 million 1.378 billion
2020 113.8 million 1.566 billion
2021 117.2 million 1.638 billion

Why Sony Will Support PS4 Beyond PS5‘s Launch

With that tremendous success in mind, it makes financial sense for Sony to extend the PS4‘s lifecycle well into the PS5 generation. Here are some key factors guiding that strategy:

  • Huge PS4 install base – With 117 million units out there, there‘s a massive audience to sell games and services to.
  • PS5 production challenges – Demand outweighs supply, so supporting PS4 fills the gap.
  • Cross-gen development costs – Many games launch on both PS4 and PS5, amortizing costs.
  • Revenue from PS4 back catalog – Sony takes a cut from PS4 game sales long after launch.
  • Refurbished/used PS4 market – Extends access for late adopters beyond discontinuation.
  • Slow upgrade adoption by casual gamers – Many households won‘t upgrade right away.

How Long Were Previous PlayStation Generations Supported?

Looking at prior console generations provides a useful indicator for forecasting the PS4 phase-out timeline based on historical patterns:

  • PlayStation 2: Launched 2000, supported through 2013 (13 years)
  • PlayStation 3: Launched 2006, supported through 2017 (11 years)
  • PlayStation Vita: Launched 2011, supported through 2019 (8 years)

The PS4 will likely fall somewhere between the extra-long tail PS2 and short-lived Vita, suggesting a 10-12 year lifespan finishing sometime between 2023-2025.

2022 Will Be the Last Big Year for Major PS4 Releases

From my perspective analyzing the industry, 2022 represents the last year the PS4 will be the true primary development platform for most major game releases. Major upcoming games like God of War: Ragnarok, Horizon Forbidden West, and Gran Turismo 7 are targeting both PS4 and PS5. This cross-generational approach maximizes publishers‘ addressable audience.

But as the PS5 install base grows, 2023 will likely see most releases focused on leveraging PS5 hardware first, with PS4 a secondary consideration. The lower costs of game porting between generations makes limited PS4 support more feasible.

The PS4 Still Delivers Strong Value in 2024 for More Casual Gamers

For consumers considering purchasing a new PlayStation console in 2024, the PS4 provides compelling advantages over the PS5 in certain scenarios:

  • Price – The PS4 will see deep discounts as stock liquidates, increasing its value.
  • Game Library – With over 4,000 titles, the PS4 offers endless gaming options.
  • Availability – PS5 shortages make buying one challenging, while PS4s are plentiful.
  • Casual Use Case – Occasional gamers may not require PS5‘s cutting-edge performance.

If you‘re playing at 1080p resolution, aren‘t concerned about faster frame rates, and just want to enjoy PlayStation exclusives, the PS4 is likely still a smart purchase in 2024 and beyond.

PS4 Support Should Gradually Recede Through 2023

While exact timing is difficult to pinpoint, I expect we‘ll see a slow tapering of PS4 support throughout 2023:

  • Fewer games launching on PS4, especially from Sony‘s own studios
  • Less frequent system software updates to patch bugs/issues
  • Possible end of PS Plus monthly game offerings for PS4
  • Shift of marketing efforts like events/conferences fully to PS5
  • Retirement of PS4-specific accessories and peripherals

So while 2023 should mark the end of major new PS4 releases, Sony will likely keep essential services active for a couple years post-support to retain goodwill with late adopters.

The PS4 Should Remain Usable Well After Sony Stops Support

When Sony does wind down PS4 support, the console should still have plenty of useful life left for players on a budget. Features like offline gaming, Blu-Ray/streaming video playback, and the access to a massive back catalog of titles don‘t require ongoing support. And an active used market means obtaining a PS4 in the later years of this decade should still be viable. So for fans of PlayStation exclusives or gaming on a budget, the PS4 is set to be a mainstay in many households long into the PS5 generation.

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