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Console stock shortages

Adam explains why console flippers add to the problems of anyone trying to buy an Xbox Series X or PS5

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Image Credit: Billy Freeman from Unsplash

When a popular new product gets released, not everyone will be able to get one on release day. The dreaded “out of stock” will be seen on websites and in stores for days, weeks and maybe even months after the initial release. However increased demand for consoles, the Covid-19 pandemic, and flippers have all ensured that the Xbox series X and PS5 have remained out of stock for over a year after their release. From time to time there will be drip feeds of the consoles into stores. However, any available stock is quickly bought up within the hour. Here are the main reasons why…

Firstly, the impact of Covid-19 has been far-reaching. The loss of life has been devastating and the economic impact cripples supply chains. The console market hasn’t been protected from this hit. Both Sony and Microsoft have experienced a low supply of console components such as chips, meaning they can’t supply enough consoles.

Furthermore, Phil Spencer (CEO of Microsoft Gaming) said that it isn’t just the supply stopping consumers from getting new consoles. Covid-19 has caused everyone to isolate at some point over the last two years, through lockdowns and self-isolation measures. This has meant that people haven’t been able to see their family or access outdoor entertainment. As a result, many people under lockdown measures have resorted to gaming. Therefore, the demand for a new Xbox, PS5 and more recently the OLED Nintendo Switch has soared. So, while the current level of supply might have been able to service gamers ten years ago, the market currently has a massive excess demand.

Another factor increasing the demand for these consoles are flippers. When any product is released, there will be people looking to turn a quick buck. This is done by either manually buying up stock or using programs to do so, with the aim of reselling anything they buy at a higher price because first-party retailers are out of stock.

The problem with all these factors means that over a year on from release both consoles are still out of stock.

Stock checking services such as Stock Informer have made it easier for gamers trying to get their hands on either console. Their website and discord update whenever there is new stock of either. Although, unless gamers are checking websites like these constantly, they are likely to miss out. Since the stock of both is usually gone within an hour.

This is where some flippers have an advantage. If they can devote more time to searching for stock of the consoles or have programs that buy stock for them, regular consumers cannot compete.

This doesn’t bode well for developers either. Developers who want to release games for the Xbox One X or PS5 specs suffer from a smaller target audience.

So, what is the solution? For the time being it seems like gamers can either wait or buy the Xbox series S. Originally marketed as the cheaper version of the Xbox series X the series S boasts remarkably similar specs to the Xbox series X. Gamers have been picking up the Series S with the intention to upgrade to the Series X when it is available.

The expectation is that this shortage will continue through 2022 with no end in sight. However, as the international spread of Covid-19 slows, hopefully, there will be an upturn in stock.

For now, this writer will continue to check the stock of the Xbox Series X. Hopefully, they start to appear on shop shelves more frequently over the coming year. Best of luck if you are trying to pick one up.

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