Right now Microsoft is, arguably, reeling after a current console generation which has left the American maker's Xbox One install base under half that of its main rival the PS4. Despite sitting on the most powerful weapon in the current-gen theatre of console war, the native 4K capable Xbox One X, this battle has been well and truly lost.
On the other side of the battlefield, Sony Interactive Entertainment general John Kodera surveys the state of play from a position of authority, with 92 million PS4 consoles sold to date, but it is a position that the latest reports indicate can't be maintained for long due to rapidly dwindling new PlayStation gamer recruitment.
Microsoft, smelling blood, has – and we know thanks to a series of intelligence leaks – been hard at work on its next-gen Scarlett program, which is set to deliver a trident of next-gen consoles in an attempt to shock-and-awe Sony with a blitzkrieg of blows designed to wrestle back console install base and gamer mind share.
And, with Kodera officially indicating that there would be no new PlayStation until 2021, at least on the face of it it would seem that Microsoft's counterattack could be successful, with the Xbox division launching not just a brand new Xbox Two flagship console (referred to as "Scarlett Pro" inside Microsoft) before the PS5, but a new Xbox One S-style mid-tier console (known as "Scarlett Arcade") and a completely streaming-based console nicknamed "Maverick".
However, and this seems increasingly backed up by the latest PS5 release date reports, it now looks like Microsoft could have been deceived by an elite covert operation run by a Sony Skunk Works-style division, who while Microsoft sees many details of its slated new systems seeing the light of day, has been hard a work to secretly outmanoeuvre them with a preemptive PS5 release for Christmas 2019 or, at the very latest, early 2020.
And, if these reports are accurate, and Sony has been conducting a secret shadow war against Microsoft and its next-gen consoles, and it does pull-off releasing the PS5 earlier than its rival, then the American maker's planned counter strike could be derailed before any damage has been done at all, setting up Sony for another triumphant victory and procession to the next-gen crown.