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Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Buying a PS5 isn't getting any easier
For more than a year, finding and successfully buying one of Sony’s (SONY) PlayStation 5 consoles has been nearly impossible for millions of gamers around the world. And it’s not getting easier anytime soon.
The console, which launched in November 2020, is one of the most sought after consumer tech products on the market. When it is available, stock sells out in what feels like an instant. It doesn’t help that you frequently have to sign up for services like Walmart (WMT) Plus or Amazon (AMZN) Prime to even have a chance at buying the system.
As the resident tech expert, my friends and family regularly hit me up about when they’ll be able to get their grubby mitts on a PS5, and I’m getting tired of figuring out different ways of telling them the same thing: I’m not sure.
The reason? The ongoing chip shortage — yep, that’s still a major issue — and shipping delays across the global supply chain. And based on Sony’s decision to cut its PS5 shipments forecast by some 3.3 million units in fiscal year 2022, it’s not going to get easier to snag a console soon.
The chip shortage isn’t easing
The global chip shortage started when consumers around the world were forced indoors at the onset of the pandemic in 2020. The massive number of people seeking everything from laptops and headsets to displays and game consoles put extreme pressure on global chipmakers.
It didn’t help that the automotive industry initially cut orders for chips thinking people wouldn’t buy many cars and trucks during the pandemic, only to have to reinstate their orders as consumers bought up vehicles in droves.
Heck, automakers are still dealing with the fallout, stripping features from new trucks and SUVs to get them onto the showroom floors. That, in turn, is sending prices of used cars higher as consumers seek out cars and trucks with all the features they want.
Industry experts initially thought the shortage would ease in the second half of 2022. But now it's clear that chip makers will have to contend with elevated demand and tight supplies for years.
In February, AMD CEO Lisa Su told Yahoo Finance that supplies will remain tight in the first half of 2022 before improving in the second half of the year. That’s not to say the shortage will end this year.
“We expect consoles to grow this year,” said Su, whose company provides the chips for the PlayStation 5. “We expect to increase supply, because there is very strong demand in the market.”
And in March, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told Fox Business the shortage won’t abate until 2024, despite his prior prediction that it would end in 2023.
“Given the current situation and some of the continuing challenges in areas like equipment for semiconductor manufacturing, I now believe it’s probably going to extend into 2024 until we start to see that balance start to be redeveloped,” Gelsinger said.
There’s hope for gamers
Retailers haven’t made it easy on consumers looking to score PS5s, either. Amazon and GameStop (GME) give priority to subscribers of their respective membership programs, while Walmart requires you to sign up for Walmart Plus to get your hands on a console.
On Tuesday, two of my friends managed to purchase PS5 consoles via Walmart after signing up for the company’s Amazon Prime competitor for $13. Yes, they had to fork over $13 for a chance to buy the console.
The idea is partly a means to keep resellers from using bots to claim as many consoles as possible before selling them at jacked-up prices on third-party marketplaces. Still, it’s messed up to make people pay a fee when they’re not even guaranteed to get a console.
There are signs that product availability is improving by the slimmest margins. Resellers on StockX, for instance, sell PS5 consoles now for as low as $675. That’s still higher than the $499 retail price, but less than the $800 the consoles went for on the seller’s site in 2021.
There’s also the incredibly rare possibility that your local brick and mortar store might have them in stock, so it’s worth at least giving them a call to see if they’ve got a few. That’s how I scored my Nintendo (NTDOY) Switch OLED.
But there’s no guarantee any method will pay off at the moment. Your best bet is to simply wait and hope Sony can increase its production capacity sometime between now and the heat death of the universe.