In a post on the PlayStation Blog, Naughty Dog creative director Neil Druckmann announced that Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has been delayed. Originally slated for a holiday 2015 release, the game will now come out in spring 2016. This is sure to disappoint PlayStation 4 owners, but it’s sure to make Microsoft jump for joy.
That’s because Microsoft is trailing Sony by a wide margin in the current console war. The Xbox One has been selling well compared to previous consoles, with an estimated 12 million units sold since its November 2013 release. But PlayStation 4 consoles have been flying off the shelves in record numbers, with more than 20 million units sold during the same time period.
A big chunk of those sales happen in the fall, near the holidays. That’s why a flood of big games comes seemingly all at once in the last quarter of each year.
Looking ahead to the last quarter of 2015, Microsoft has two big exclusive games planned to come out: Halo 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Sony, on the other hand, had only one big exclusive planned for the end of the year (you guessed it): Uncharted 4. Now that Uncharted 4 will be a 2016 game, Sony’s holiday lineup of exclusives is looking pretty weak.
Not that Sony has nothing in the pipeline. Games like Ratchet & Clank, No Man’s Sky, and Persona 5 will launch on PS4, although no specific release dates have been announced. Smaller games like Amplitude and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture are slated to come out in 2015 (you can find a more comprehensive list of upcoming PS4 exclusives here). Sony’s problem is that none of those games has the mass appeal of Halo 5 or Rise of the Tomb Raider.
It’s possible that Sony has some other end-of-year exclusive up its sleeve that will be revealed in the coming months, though it’s getting a little late for that. Alternatively, Sony could break a deal with a third-party developer for a timed exclusive, just like Microsoft did to keep Rise of the Tomb Raider from launching on PlayStation 4 in 2015.
And even if Sony doesn’t have a blockbuster exclusive this fall, the PS4 is far from doomed. Plenty of major third-party games will be released this fall for both Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and many people will buy a PS4 to play them. But if a customer is looking for a reason to buy one console over the other, the one-two punch of Halo 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider makes a strong argument for Xbox One.
That could spell bad news for Sony. It wouldn’t be the end of the world considering the PS4’s huge sales lead, but it could start to turn the tide in Microsoft’s favor.
Even if Q4 of 2015 goes Microsoft’s way, things are looking bright for Sony in 2016. Right now it has Uncharted 4 and the Project Morpheus virtual reality headset lined up to release in the first half of the year. And if a game as big as Uncharted has been delayed, surely one or two of the other games planned for 2015 will meet a similar fate.
Still, if you’re making a bet about console sales during the fourth quarter of 2015, your best bet at this point is on Xbox One winning the holiday.
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