Sony and Microsoft announced their next-gen systems it seems like forever ago. We’ve been living with the knowledge for what, a year now? Feels like it. Okay, May 2013, so just a few months, but it’s already slipping into late August, which means back to school, which means the fall’s just around the corner and we still don’t know when we’ll have to come up with roughly half a grand to fund either an Xbox One ($500) or PlayStation 4 ($400), plus $60-$70 (or more) for games and all those must-have peripheral trimmings.
Sony may be about to put speculation about the launch date to rest. Last week, the company wrote:
For one week in August 2013, the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany becomes the centre of the gaming universe as the world’s biggest publishers and developers invite you to check out the games that will light up the rest of the year and beyond.
We’ll kick off the show at 18:00 BST on 20 August 2013 with a briefing to media on our release plans for PlayStation 4, as well as updates on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
August 20 is tomorrow, of course, and 18:00 BST is 1:00p.m. EDT, so that’s when to look for the launch particulars (which we’ll summarize here). The PS4 has been available via preorder for awhile now, though retailers have implied early sales have been strong enough that orders placed after August 5 may not be fulfilled on release day. How much of that’s scientific reality or just retailer hype remains to be seen.
Why Europe? Because Europe has over 700 million citizens, and while the PS3 played follow-the-leaders (Wii, Xbox 360) for the past seven years in the U.S., trailing Nintendo and Microsoft by millions of units, it’s long been ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in European sales (in total global sales, Sony and Microsoft are neck and neck). Also, while the U.S. media makes E3 seem like the center of the gaming-verse, the world’s biggest games convention is in fact Gamescom, with over a quarter million annual attendees (E3 in its best years claims a fraction as many).
If I had to guess, I’d peg the PS4 for a late October launch. The PS3 arrived stateside in November 2006, and the PS2 before it in late October 2000 (the original PlayStation arrived in early September, believe it or not). If the games are ready and Sony has sufficient hardware in the hopper for a global debut, an October launch would put the company out ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox One, since we know the latter won’t arrive until sometime in November.