When Sony denied last week that it was planning any kind of launch event for its new PlayStation 5 console, that was only sort of true. Tokyo’s daily Covid-count was rising alarmingly into “third wave” territory, most of the initial sales of the machine were online anyway and no right-minded corporation wants its name associated with a pandemic cluster.

But when you have spent 74 years building your brand on consumer products — and have as powerful and deep-pocketed a rival as Microsoft on your tail — a flashy launch is tough to resist...

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