Despite the slow and difficult start experienced by the Xbox Series X/S and the PlayStation 5, many are already clamoring for news regarding the next console generation. Although practically nothing is definitively known about upcoming consoles, comments made by representatives from Microsoft during the company’s first day in court with the Federal Trade Commission indicate that the upcoming tenth generation of video game consoles is still a significant number of years away from release.
Although the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 are a few years into their life cycles, rumors abound regarding when their successors will be announced. Released in 2020, the latest Xbox and PlayStation consoles are still relatively young, especially with the average console generation lifespan ranging from six to seven years. The recent revelation from Microsoft, however, suggests that the ninth generation of video game consoles may enjoy a longer lifespan than most.
Microsoft Expects The Next Console Gen Launch In 2028
As part of the Federal Trade Commission hearings (via IGN) regarding the Activision Blizzard King acquisition, Microsoft, manufacturer of the Xbox, has revealed that it expects that the next generation of video game consoles will launch at some point during 2028. These court documents suggest that the next Xbox console and the PlayStation 6 are projected to be released eight years after the 2020 release of the Xbox Series X/S and the PlayStation 5 – a fairly average, and not-unexpected eight-year console lifespan.
Despite an almost constant stream of rumors, as well as unsubstantiated murmuring that the PlayStation 6 or mid-generation PlayStation 5 Pro would be announced at the 2023 PlayStation Showcase, Sony Interactive Entertainment has yet to declare any plans regarding the PlayStation 6. However, the company does not expect a next-generation PlayStation to come out before 2027, according to Eurogamer, which cites documents released during the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation into the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard King deal. This potentially corroborates the 2028 next-gen console release date asserted by representatives from Microsoft during the Federal Trade Commission hearings.
Microsoft’s comment on the expected starting date of the next generation of consoles came as a result of a discussion regarding Activision Blizzard King’s 10-year commitment to continue producing Call of Duty games for Sony Interactive Entertainment on the PlayStation platform. In a document released in November 2022, Sony Interactive Entertainment noted that as a result of the Activision Blizzard King acquisition, it expected to lose access to the best-selling first-person shooter franchise in 2027; however, a recently leaked email (via Forbes) suggests that senior members of Sony Interactive Entertainment do not actually believe they will lose access to the popular franchise.
Microsoft’s Acquisition Of Activision Blizzard King
If Microsoft is permitted to take over Activision Blizzard King, it would make Microsoft the world’s third most profitable gaming company. It would potentially also result in many popular franchises disappearing from present and future-gen PlayStation and Nintendo consoles. In an attempt to alleviate the concerns of regulators at the Federal Trade Commission, Microsoft has announced several video game licensing deals with rival companies to bring Activision Blizzard King games to non-Microsoft consoles – including a 10-year deal with Nintendo to bring Call of Duty games to the Switch; however, and in spite of a number of proposed arrangements, Microsoft has not yet reached a licensing agreement with Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Although PlayStation has worked with other Microsoft-owned companies in the past, such as Bethesda Game Studios, and the developer of Minecraft, Mojang, it appears as though this may not be the case if Microsoft succeeds in acquiring Activision Blizzard King. The President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Jim Ryan, announced during an FTC deposition (via Stephen Totilo on Twitter) that if Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard King goes ahead, PlayStation would have to withhold information about the PlayStation 6 from the developer of the Call of Duty, Diablo, and Overwatch franchises, as a result of concerns that Microsoft would have access to private and sensitive information regarding the PlayStation 6’s hardware, software, and features.
As also indicated in Ryan’s FTC deposition, the loss of the relationship with Activision Blizzard King could be detrimental to not only the catalog of the PlayStation 6, but also to its features. Jim Ryan noted that he believes that the collaboration between Sony Interactive Entertainment and Activision Blizzard King lead to better features on the PlayStation 5. Therefore, if Microsoft takes over the developer, the PlayStation 6 may suffer as a result of the loss of the important partnership, as well as Sony Interactive Entertainment’s consequent inability to share confidential details regarding any upcoming PlayStation consoles.
2028 Is Only an Expectation, The PS6 Could Launch Even Later
As a result of the semiconductor chip shortages stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, console manufacturers have struggled to keep up with the incredibly high demand for the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5. Although the semiconductor chip shortage is not entirely resolved, it is reported to be improving, and as a result, the availability of the latest generation console releases has increased in recent months. Despite this, there is still a high level of demand, which when compounded by the unprecedentedly high price of components, could result in the 2028 release date being pushed back in the coming years.
The ongoing court battle between Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission has been raging since December 2022, following an announcement made by the commission that it intended to block Microsoft’s $68.7 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard King, as to review if the purchase is compliant with US antitrust laws. Although legal proceedings are still underway, a federal court in California recently issued a temporary restraining order blocking the acquisition for an indeterminate period of time. While the outcome of the FTC hearings remains unclear, it’s offered fascinating insight into the future of both Xbox and PlayStation.