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In a nutshell: Reports out of Japan indicate that Sony has discontinued all but one PS4 model in its home country. There is no indication when it will twilight the last-gen gaming console in western regions. However, starting the wind down in Japan first is traditional with Sony.
Japanese gaming blog Game Watch reports that Sony Interactive Entertainment announced that production has ended for most PlayStation 4 models. It has cut production of the CUH-2000 series PS4s. It has also discontinued all CUH-7000 series PS4 Pros. The only design that will remain in production is the PS4 Slim Jet Black 500GB model.
The move is somewhat surprising considering the longevity of previous consoles. The PlayStation 4 has been available for seven years, and the upgraded PS4 Pro launched only four years ago. By comparison, the PlayStation 3 lived on for 11 years, while the PS2 remained in production for almost 13 years.
PS4 Slim (Jet Black, 500GB model) to continue production
One may dismiss it to the PlayStation 5's successful launch, but that has not mattered in the past. Sony retired the PS3 in 2017—four years after the PS4's launch. It did not discontinue the PlayStation 2 until 2013 (2012 Japan), the same year the PS4 made its debut. However, things are different now.
For one, current production levels for the PlayStation 5 are not keeping up with demand. Sony intends to devote the freed-up assembly lines to PS5 production. Last week, a leak from insiders indicated that Sony is ramping up production in 2021. Retiring the PS4 now should help facilitate that goal.
Secondly, previous generations have not had to deal with the levels of false demand we have been experiencing with scalpers. The scalping of high-demand products has become more prevalent in recent years. Advanced tools allow scalpers to cut to the front of online queues easier than ever, and botnets can buy up all the inventory very quickly.
Lastly, Sony likely planned a quick transition from the PS4 Pro to its next-gen console from the beginning. The Pro has the same $399 MSPR as the PlayStation 5 digital. So discontinuing it now that there is a more robust system at the same price point makes sense.
Image credit: George Dolgikh