PlayStation 5 to outsell Xbox Series X in 2020, analyst predicts

The PS4's massive lead will help PS5 outsell Xbox Series X in 2020, analyst predicts.

19 minutes & 22 seconds read time

Sony's next-gen PlayStation 5 will outsell the Xbox Series X by virtue of PS4 backward compatibility, IHS Markit analyst Piers-Harding Rolls predicts.

PlayStation 5 to outsell Xbox Series X in 2020, analyst predicts 24

According to new analyst predictions, the PS4's current lead over the Xbox One will help Sony beat Microsoft in next-gen console sales. How? Backwards compatibility. The PS4's massive 100 million+ install base carries with it hundreds of millions of game purchases, all of which will be playable on the PlayStation 5. That means current PS4 owners are much more likely to not only stay with PlayStation, but buy into the new PS5 hardware because their library of games carries forward to next-gen.

"I expect PS5 to outsell Xbox Series X in 2020, but for both platforms to sell more consoles at launch than both the PS4 and Xbox One did back in 2013," Harding-Rolls told "One new factor for this upcoming generation is the impact of backwards compatibility on brand loyalty and audience transition. I think we'll see less brand switching as a result.

"I also expect pricing of both PS5 and Xbox Series X to be similar, and I think it's more likely than not they will be higher than the PS4 launch price point of $399."

This is a sentiment I've outlined many times at TweakTown, and went so far as to say that backward compatibility is the most important feature of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

Next-gen is all about carrying the current legacy forward. It's not about resetting the switch, but transitioning between gens and bringing past glories into the future.

Luckily both systems were built from the ground up to support current-gen games.

Leaks say the PlayStation 5 has special GPU profiles that fully emulate both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro, allowing for innate native backward compatibility. The console downscales its GPU based on what game is launched to mirror the performance of current-gen systems.

Technically the PS5 has three GPU performance profiles:

  • Gen2 mode - Fully unlocks the Navi GPU at 2GHz for next-gen games
  • Gen1 mode - Downscales the GPU to 911MHz, 218GB/sec bandwidth, and 64 ROPs to emulate the PS4 Pro
  • Gen0 mode - Drops the GPU to 800MHz with 176GB/sec bandwidth and 32 ROPs to emulate the base PS4

Microsoft says the Xbox Series X's customized Zen 2 and Navi GPU-powered SoC was created specifically with backward compatibility in mind, and it definitely shows.

Although the Xbox Series X's backward compatibility may eclipse the PlayStation 5's by supporting four generations' worth of Xbox games, Microsoft simply doesn't have the console hardware lead that Sony does.

And there's reports the PlayStation 5 could be weaker in power than the Xbox SX, possibly indicating a lower price tag. Sony could simply steal next-gen with a $399 PlayStation 5.

PlayStation 5 to outsell Xbox Series X in 2020, analyst predicts 3

Read Also: Xbox Series X may be more powerful, but will third-party devs use it?

Sony could win next-gen (or at least launch sales in 2020) by sheer numbers alone. The PlayStation 4 has absolutely dominated this generation, but Microsoft has adapted in a very creative and intelligent way.

They no longer care about playing the sales game, and don't play by Sony's rules. Microsoft is all about engagement and digital services now, and consoles are basically just the entry point to a constant flow of billion-dollar revenues. We've seen this flourish thanks to MS' extensive backward compatibility endeavors, full cross-game and OS unification between Windows 10 PCs and Xbox consoles, and in potent services like Game Pass and Xbox LIVE (Game Pass in particular has absolutely transformed the landscape of gaming). Project xCloud will also push Microsoft forward.

So ultimately being in second place again won't hurt Microsoft. They've found a way to compensate for the hardware displacement and will weather the impact tremendously well.

Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will release Holiday 2020. Check below for a specs and a huge content listing for each console:

PlayStation 5 specs and details:

  • Custom SoC with second-gen Navi GPU, Zen 2 CPU
  • 8-Core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.2GHz
  • Navi GPU at 2.0GHz with 36 Compute Units
  • Navi, Zen SoC uses new AMD RDNA 2.0 architecture
  • Ultra-fast SSD
  • Support for 4K 120 Hz TVs
  • Ray-tracing enabled
  • 8K output support (for gaming)
  • Plays all PS4 games
  • Separate games that ship on BD-XL Blu-ray discs
  • New controller with extensive haptic and tactile feedback

PlayStation 5 Coverage:

Xbox Series X confirmed details (Formerly Project Scarlett):

  • 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU
  • Navi GPU on RDNA architecture
  • Highly customized 7nm SoC from AMD
  • GDDR6 memory
  • 2x Xbox One X's 6TFLOPs of GPU perf
  • 4x CPU power of Xbox One generation
  • Can deliver up to 40x more performance than Xbox One in specific use cases
  • Adaptive sync supported
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • Supports 8K resolution (likely media playback)
  • 120FPS gaming
  • Variable refresh rate (adaptive sync/FreeSync)
  • Variable Rate Shading
  • Raytracing confirmed with dedicated raytracing cores
  • Backward compatible with thousands of Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games
  • New controller with a dedicated share button
  • Compatible with Xbox One accessories

Lockhart (Unconfirmed lower-end Xbox Series hardware)

  • 1440p 60FPS
  • No disc drive
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC w/ scaled-down 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHZ and Navi GPU
  • Lower GDDR6 memory pool (Possibly 12GB)
  • ~6-8 TFLOPs of power?
  • Aims to rival PS4 Pro/Replace Xbox One S
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • Cheaper MSRP

Anaconda/Xbox Series X/Project Scarlett

  • 4K 60FPS
  • Disc drive with 4K UHD playback
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • 7nm AMD SoC with 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHz and Navi GPU
  • 16GB GDDR6 RAM
  • 12 TFLOPs of power
  • 2x GPU power as Xbox One X/aims to replace Xbox One X
  • Full backward compatibility with all Xbox One games
  • More expensive MSRP

Xbox Series X coverage:

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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