Severe game consoles and graphics card shortages sometimes make developers rethink their plans for previous-generation products. In a bid to fight its PlayStation console shortage, Sony intends to keep producing PS4 machines throughout 2022. That essentially means that Sony will extend the PS4's lifecycle for a period of time, which means a slower transition to the latest PlayStation 5.
Sony originally planned to stop producing its PlayStation 4 consoles by the end of 2021, reports Bloomberg (citing confidential sources). However, Sony decided to keep manufacturing its previous-generation PlayStation 4 system throughout 2022 because it is easier and cheaper to make after having already spent years in production.
Sony has never disclosed its plans for its PS4 after the PS5 launch, but traditionally the company keeps selling its previous-generation consoles for years after it launches its newer-gen system. With PS5, the company reportedly intended to quickly transit its console business to PlayStation 5.
Unfortunately, it is unclear from Bloomberg's report whether Sony plans to keep producing the PlayStation 4 Slim, PlayStation 4, or both systems. But Sony has officially confirmed that PS4 is still in production.
"It is one of the best-selling consoles ever, and there is always crossover between generations," a statement by Sony reads.
Since demand for game consoles is generally high, Sony needs all the hardware it can get to maintain its unit market share. Meanwhile, due to chip shortages and a limited number of leading-edge chips that AMD and its partner TSMC can supply, Sony opted to keep making its previous-generation console and sell it to customers who cannot get or afford the latest system. Also, the relatively cheap PS4 might be considered as a viable competitor for Microsoft's inexpensive Xbox Series S.
Since Sony (and Microsoft) now sell everything they can, keeping the PlayStation 4 in production for another year or so does not necessarily mean a significant extension of the active PS4 lifecycle since the systems will be gone from stores unless there are plenty of PS5s available. Meanwhile, since there will be more recently purchased PlayStation 4 systems in the hands of users, game developers will certainly extend their support for the platform. In some cases, it could mean that they will spend less effort on games for the latest PlayStation 5.