PS5 wins shadow war: Xbox loses nerve as PS5 price and release date remain cloaked

Sony's years-long PS5 shadow war to smoke out the Xbox Series X and S just attained its ideal end game result

PS5 price Sony PlayStation 5 release date
(Image credit: Vinícius de Jesus)

So the 25th anniversary of the original PlayStation launching in North America came and went and, contrary to multiple leaks, the PS5 price or release date was not confirmed, while PS5 pre-orders remained firmly closed.

To gamers worldwide this is no doubt a disappointing blow, as hype for the PlayStation 5 console has now reached truly god-tier proportions. Gamers want to lock-in a system so they can play awesome PS5 games at launch.

But, interestingly, what did happen on the big PS5 anniversary, was that the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S price, release date and pre-order start time was confirmed.

Just when we thought we were going to finally get the last pieces of the PlayStation 5 puzzle, the PS5 price and release date, as well as PS5 pre-order start time, we got absolutely nothing from Sony and instead got everything from its arch rival.

On the surface level, this appears to be a win for Microsoft, right? The dramatic ambushing of a carefully planned event by their biggest rival. Sony just got beaten to the punch when it mattered most.

The thing is, though, when you scratch the surface of this narrative, you start to see evidence of the real truth lurking behind it – the truth that Sony has just flawlessly executed the final part of a deep-cover covert shadow war against its foe to force its hand.

Just look at the facts, and then re-evaluate what just happened. Microsoft has just revealed everything about its next-gen console family, and Sony has revealed nothing. If this was a game of high-stakes poker, then Microsoft has just revealed its full hand of cards to the table, while Sony's cards remain firmly face down.

And, this is really important: Sony now has complete knowledge of Microsoft's launch strategy. It knows the Xbox Series X and S price, release date, pre-order date and launch date, too. It's like one of the top brass at Xbox HQ has turned traitor and handed over a dossier full of its most important secrets.

And with Microsoft coming off a chastening defeat in the last-gen console war, where the PS4 outsold the Xbox One by a factor of more than 2-to-1, Sony is now in a position to ensure that it charges into battle in the most effective way possible. Sony can see all of Xbox's battle lines and can now plan its attack suitably, pricing the PS5 at the optimum level and releasing it at the perfect time, too.

It also has just bought itself yet even more desperation on gamers' behalf for PS5 pre-orders, and can fire the starting gun at the perfect time to disrupt Xbox Series X pre-orders.

Simply put, Sony appears to have played the perfect deep-cover skunk works strategy to flush out Xbox early. How do we know Microsoft went early? Only by the big boss of Xbox itself Phil Spencer, who tweeted this very revealing tweet after Xbox had shown its full hand.

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There is the proof, clear as day, from the Head of Xbox. The announcement was "unscripted" and "was supposed to be next week".

This is now 100% clear. Microsoft had not intended to reveal the Xbox Series X and Series S information this week, but next week. Something made it change its mind, and all evidence suggests that it was because there was so much smoke around Sony doing the same thing on that day.

Let's not forget that, too – Microsoft didn't just go in the same week that Sony was supposed to, it went on the exact day it was rumored to. When you put this together with the confirmation that the Xbox event was moved forward, and that it was unplanned (Phil said it was unscripted, and when something is unscripted that means it was a last minute decision), it adds up to an image of Sony luring Microsoft into a carefully laid trap.

This is the shadow war that T3 has been writing about for years. Evidence emerged early in the PS5's development that Sony was running a Skunk Works-style division internally that was designed to outmanoeuvre Microsoft when it came round to the next-gen console war.

And here, with mere weeks to go now before both the PS5 and Xbox Series X go head-to-head, it looks like Sony is heading into the conflict with not just an install base advantage, not just an exclusive games advantage, but a knowledge of the opposition advantage, too.

It looks like Sony has just pulled off an undercover operation that The Circus would be proud of.

Robert Jones
Robert Jones

Deputy Editor for, Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology and more for over 15 years. You can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket two favourites. Feel free to contact him with any related products, events, and announcements.