No PS5 for You

The PS5 is approaching its second birthday (in November of 2022), and it’s still incredibly difficult to find one. If you walk into a Target or a Best Buy, for example, you will only find empty shelves where the new console should be. While it’s somewhat normal for a video-game console to be elusive in its early months, it’s not normal for the drought to last this long.

So what’s going on? Well, there are several factors at play here. I’m going to walk through six reasons the PS5 is still so difficult to purchase in 2022. I should point out here that these things are not operating independently of each other; a lot of them are deeply intertwined.

With that said, let’s get to the list.

The pandemic caused a breakdown in workflow

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When it became clear that COVID-19 was a real problem, companies had to scramble to find solutions in order to stay productive. For a lot of people, that created a period of uncertainty. Some folks were laid off, while others were moved to remote work. Some people decided to quit entirely to look for safer careers.

In fact, despite saying in March of 2020 that the pandemic wouldn’t affect PS5 production, Sony later admitted to scaling back the amount of PS5s produced that year. It wasn’t because of production issues, they claimed, it was due to an expected reduction in interest due to the price point and the fact that a lot of potential buyers were out of work at the time.

I admit that I’m skeptical. Do you really believe that Sony didn’t run into issues with console production during the pandemic? The economy was impacted globally; there are few industries that weren’t affected by it. I simply can’t imagine that absolutely nothing changed in Sony’s factories.

So while this point contradicts Sony’s narrative, I think it’s somewhat safe to assume that they’re not being completely forthcoming about how the pandemic altered their production capacity. In fact, they admitted as much by the end of 2021, citing “logistics” as one of the reasons they were falling behind.

Of course, they cited another major factor as well…

There’s a years-long global semiconductor shortage

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If you want to really get into the weeds about how semiconductors are made and how they’ve become so tough to acquire, the Verge posted a lengthy interview with Harvard professor Willy Shih that walked through a lot of it.

The short version is that semiconductors are a component in a lot of devices, from cars to refrigerators to computers. Because the PS5 makes use of them, and because they are really difficult to come by these days, PS5 production has been slowed. And that’s not likely to change any time soon, with experts predicting that the shortage will last through 2023.

Cryptocurrency mining is exacerbating the semiconductor shortage

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Cryptocurrency mining is hardware-intensive, and serious miners need serious rigs. Those rigs require multiple GPUs, which are made using semiconductors. With certain individuals buying up dozens — or even hundreds — of GPUs, it’s pushing an already-buckling supply issue beyond its breaking point. And that’s making it difficult for Sony to acquire the semiconducting components it needs to build more PS5s.

Thanks, Bitcoin!

Supply chains are breaking down

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The average person doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about supply chains — they’re kind of boring, to be perfectly honest. But that all changed after the pandemic caused a global supply chain breakdown, which has been impacting the daily lives of pretty much everyone.

The term supply chain basically refers to the system that moves products around the world. This system is in a crisis right now, with ships stuck at port, warehouses overflowing with goods they don’t have room for, and retailers unable to get their hands on the products they are trying to sell.

This has a twofold effect on the PS5 supply — on one end, components are more difficult to get in bulk to even make the consoles. On the other end, the consoles that do get produced are slow to reach consumers.

Scalpers are making all of this worse

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If you’ve ever had even the most basic of economics units in your educational career, then you surely know that prices rise when demand outweighs supply. And when there’s scarcity of anything, there’s a lot of money to be made.

Enter the scalper market. People are buying PS5s simply to resell them at higher prices. They’ll set up bots that can auto-purchase consoles faster than a human being ever could, so when a fresh batch of consoles hits the market, you’ve got scalpers trying to out-bot each other. If you’re a human being, with a human reaction time, you’re at a severe disadvantage.

But scalpers aren’t just hitting the PS5 market; they’re also scooping up GPUs, which is causing shortages further upstream.

So you’ve got scalpers grabbing up GPUs, exacerbating the semiconductor shortage, and you’ve also got scalpers stockpiling PS5s, artificially driving up prices.

To be fair, Sony is attempting to push back against the scalping craze, but it seems clear to me that they’re not doing nearly enough. PS5 scalping is completely out of control at this point, and that’s probably not going to change until supply starts catching up with demand.

Demand for the PS5 is higher than for the Xbox Series X|S

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If you’ve tried to buy an Xbox Series S, you might have struggled a little bit to find one. However, if you’ve tried to buy both a Series S and a PS5, you’ve almost certainly had way, way more trouble finding a PS5. The Series X tends to be harder to find than the Series S, but even that doesn’t really compare to the PS5.

Personally, I think this is something of a mistake on the part of consumers. Keep in mind I’ve been a lifelong PlayStation fan, so it pains me to admit this, but in 2022, the Series S is a way better value than the PS5. There are three reasons for this:

  • The MSRP of the Series S is $100 cheaper than that of the digital version of the PS5.
  • The Series S isn’t all that difficult to find right now.
  • Game Pass is an incredible value.

If all you want is an entry point into the current generation of gaming, the Series S is simply a better value. If you’re interested in PlayStation games specifically, there’s very little reason to upgrade from the PS4 to the PS5 right now — PlayStation exclusives are releasing on both PS4 and PS5 right now, and that doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anytime soon.

With all that said, demand for the PS5 is outpacing that of the Xbox Series X|S by a ridiculous margin. The PS5 is seen by the general populace as the more desirable console. Demand is high, and supply is low, and that means the PS5 is naturally going to be hard to find.

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1 year ago

Microsoft paid advertisement?

PS5 is far superior to the PS4 and Pro.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jas
1 year ago
Reply to  Josh Wirtanen

Almost all of what you said I agree with except the exclusives, PS5 has Returnal, ff7 remake intergrade, the new marvel spiderman remaster, demon souls , Horizon, Ghost of Sushima also at this point Sony is trying to get to the backwards compatibility with some of the psx and ps2 games. Though i do understand that most of these games are on ps4 and pc now(I wish more where there) but comparing Sony vs Microsoft exclusives isn’t as cut and dry as they have halo and Forza and Sony only has remakes of last of us and rachet and clank. Though i do hope with Microsoft buying more companies that they will push their exclusives.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jas

Really dawg I thought the ps3 was better who new

1 year ago

the greedy people at SONY figured a way to make more money by selling directly to third parties at escalated prices.This is so obvious.If SONY really wanted gamers to get ahold of one at MSRP then wtf didnt they offer them directly through PLAYSTATION PLUS! SONY is so full of it.Its LAUGHABLE.It all comes down to GREED!

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