The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles have been out for months, but unfortunately, it’s still difficult to purchase them unless you can place your order within seconds of a drop.
In November of 2020, Sony and Microsoft launched the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X next-generation consoles, respectively, ushering in a new era for the video game industry. Nearly three months removed from the PS5 and Xbox Series X launch dates, though, and both consoles are still extremely hard to find out in the wild. Many people who want to get their hands on a PS5 or Xbox Series X console are finding themselves paying outrageous prices to scalpers, and many others are opting to simply wait for the supply to catch up to the demand.
Console shortages are nothing new. Many may recall how difficult it was to find a Nintendo Wii on store shelves at the height of that console’s popularity, and PS4s weren’t exactly plentiful when it first launched either. However, it’s been especially difficult to find PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles in stock, and there are a few different reasons for that.
One of the biggest factors when it comes to the limited availability of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles is unprecedented demand. The video game industry has grown exponentially in the past decade, with it becoming even bigger with each passing year. More people are gamers now than any other point in history, and so it stands to reason that more people than ever before want to get their hands on a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X.
Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X sales have been incredibly strong out of the gate, setting records for both Sony and Microsoft. Clearly there is unprecedented demand for these consoles, and so it makes sense that they seem more difficult to find than consoles from previous generations. But while unprecedented demand is certainly playing a big role, other factors are making a much bigger impact.
The Impact Of COVID-19
Quite easily the biggest reason why it’s difficult to find PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles is due to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has had an adverse effect on both the PS5 and Xbox Series X from multiple angles, causing a variety of issues that have all worked to make it difficult for consumers to get their hands on a next-generation console. Most obviously, COVID-19 has impacted the supply chain, making it difficult for Sony and Microsoft to produce as many consoles as they would have been able to otherwise.
COVID-19’s impact on the supply chain means less PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles are being made then is technically possible, which has made it even more difficult for Sony and Microsoft to keep up with demand. However, COVID-19 has had other impacts on PS5 and Xbox Series X availability, like many stores choosing to only sell their PS5 and Xbox Series X stock online. This means that consumers can’t simply walk into a retail store and walk out with a new console; instead they have to sit by their computers, hope for a restock, and then be lucky enough to snag a console before the bots buy them out.
With virtually all PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X console sales taking place online, scalpers have been able to use bots to buy up stock as soon as it goes live. PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles sell out mere minutes after they’re made available because of bots, leaving many consumers with no consoles. Scalpers then sit on their PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X stock (as evidenced by the reports that PS5 and Xbox Series X software sales have taken a hit due to how many consoles are being hoarded by scalpers), taking advantage of the high demand by selling the consoles at ridiculously marked-up prices.
Scalpers have always been an issue when it comes to popular new technology launches, and they would have been a factor regardless. COVID-19 forcing most console sales online have made it significantly easier for scalpers to game the system and collect as many PS5 and Xbox Series X units as possible. And while this is bad news for people who want to pay retail price for a new console, there is at least some good coming out of it.
Governments are starting to look into scalpers, with some members of the UK government talking about banning scalping and making it a criminal offence. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but at least the issue is getting more attention, so hopefully it can be resolved by the time the next console generation rolls around.
When Will It Get Easier To Find PS5 And Xbox Series X Consoles?
Unprecedented demand, COVID-19, and scalpers are all making it very difficult for consumers to buy PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles. Eventually, these issues will be resolved, and it will become easier to find the consoles in stores. As for when that might be, it seems most likely that PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles will become more readily available at some point in the second half of 2021.
After all, the second half of 2021 will have far more people vaccinated against COVID-19, and both Sony and Microsoft should be able to produce far more units, which will help them meet demand. However, it should be noted that the Christmas season may see another PS5 and Xbox Series X console shortage, so those interested should keep their fingers crossed that the consoles are easier to find in late summer or autumn, and pick one up at that point.
Nazrul Hoque – 01 February 2021