The PS5 is truly a marvellous machine, but not everyone has been able to enjoy its many merits. At time of writing, it’s still incredibly difficult to actually get your hands on a PS5, with many outlets selling out within mere minutes of receiving stock and going live with listings. It’s safe to say we have a veritable PS5 shortage on our hands, and it’s not looking like that’s going to get any better in the immediate future, either. How did we get here? Why are PS5 consoles so hard to find?
The answer is a little more complex than you might expect, but the current PS5 shortage can essentially be boiled down to this: there’s a major shortage for a crucial component of the console, and since this component is present in lots of consumer electronics, everyone wants to get their hands on what stock is available. The semiconductor shortage has hit every consumer electronics industry from gaming to automobiles, and it’s having a knock-on effect elsewhere, too.
Semiconductors are fairly complex to fully explain, but you can think of them as part of the “chip” that powers most consumer electronics. Indeed, in many places around the world, the semiconductor shortage has been referred to as a “chip shortage” instead. This means that the “brain” that essentially drives most of a piece of tech’s functionality isn’t easy to get hold of, which in turn leads to shortages everywhere from gaming tech to advanced AI.
Despite what you may have heard, Sony has actually assured gamers that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t have anything to do with its PS5 supply woes. Of course, that isn’t technically true; the semiconductor shortage is due, at least in part, to production halting thanks to COVID-19, so indirectly, the pandemic is to blame. Still, Sony swears it hasn’t actually slowed production due to the situation, so it really is just that semiconductor shortage that’s the culprit.
Unfortunately, this has meant that in the wake of difficulties obtaining PS5 consoles, many scalpers and bots have risen up to take part in the PS5 shortage. If you’ve ever seen a PS5 on sale for a ludicrous amount of money, this is the work of scalpers. They buy the consoles at retail knowing that they’ll be hugely in demand, then mark up the prices to extortionate levels in order to make a profit. It’s not a very morally scrupulous practice, but there’s nothing illegal about it – not yet, at least.
There’s also an issue with demand that’s directly related to the pandemic. Since more of us are working from home, we’re also demanding more round-the-clock entertainment, and the PS5 offers a solution to our boredom woes. We want to have fun as a break from the monotony of working, and since we’re already at home, we reach for the PS5 for a quick blast on Astro’s Playroom or Demon’s Souls. Since more people are working from home, though, this means demand significantly increases for the console.
One unexpected source of the PS5 shortage could also be cryptocurrency mining. Right now, consumer graphics cards are rare, thanks in part to the chip shortage but also to cryptocurrency miners buying up all the most powerful GPUs. AMD cards have been hit particularly hard by this issue, and the PS5 uses a proprietary AMD graphics card to power its visuals, which means that Sony is having just as difficult a time obtaining the hardware it wants as everyone else is.
So, when will the PS5 shortage end? That’s a very difficult question to answer, unfortunately. Sony has said that stock shortages will continue into 2022, so if you’re hoping for widespread availability in time for Christmas 2021, you’re very likely to be disappointed, unfortunately. Some outlets are more optimistic, with suggestions that the PS5 could become more available this fall, but it’s a difficult one to call simply because of the semiconductor shortage.
There is, however, some good news. While it’s true that PS5 stock won’t be at normal levels for a while, you’ll inevitably have a chance to get hold of a console sooner or later. This is because even when one factors in scalpers and bots, eventually, those who want consoles will have them, so each wave theoretically allows more people to get a chance at obtaining a console. PS5 bundles, too, prevent scalpers from getting a chance at them, so if you want a PS5, your best bet is to splash out that bit of extra cash and grab a bundle when you see one.
Alright, so you know there’s a PS5 shortage, and you still want to buy one. How can you do that? Your best bet is to keep an eye on a stock checker page. These refresh constantly with news about when PS5 consoles are in stock and where you can grab them. Turn on your Twitter notifications and watch carefully for when stock is released. The best platforms in the UK on which to get PS5 stock are Game, Amazon, Very, and AO, with Box and Argos also offering semi-regular drops.
With enough dedication and a little luck, you should eventually be able to get your hands on a PS5. It’s not easy, though, and it’s going to be a long time before it’s possible to simply walk into your local electronics retailer, ask for a PS5, and get one without hassle.
Wonder if some countries have better availability than others? When the PS2 was released and wait times were over 6 months (without paying scalper prices) here in the U.S. I travelled to Toronto for work and walked into an electronics retailer in a mall and they had lots of PS2’s on display. After verifying that the boxes weren’t just empty for show, I purchased 2, brought them back and gave my son one and my nephews one to share between the 3 of them.