Sony has more than just the pre-PS5 sales slump to worry about in the near future. Company financial chief Hiroki Totoki has warned that US plans for expanded tariffs on Chinese products could force a price hike on PlayStation consoles. The tech giant is still exploring its options, Totoki said, but passing the costs to consumers was one of them. There hasn't been a firm decision as it's not clear whether or not widened tariffs will apply in the first place -- that depends on the Trump administration's negotiations with China.
The US raised tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods back in May, to 25 percent. A further tariff expansion would cover another $300 billion in products, including PlayStation systems.
This leaves Sony in a tough position. Consoles like the PS4 are typically sold at slim profit margins (or even at a loss early on) with the expectation of recouping more money through game and service sales. There might not be much room for Sony to absorb the tariff costs or move production to another country. At the same time, a price increase could lead to even weaker PS4 sales and leave Sony on shaky ground until the PS5's launch, which many expect in late 2020. Short of the US ending its tariff threats, there's no easy answer.