The PS5 vs. Xbox Series X war is sure to be an interesting one based on the initial projected sales of both devices, but we’re not really going to see the battle truly begin until more people actually own one of (or both of) the new consoles.
Therein lies the problem. The fact of the matter is that Microsoft and Sony are dealing with hardware shortages that have made it incredibly difficult to pre-order or outright purchase a next-gen console. Even worse, everything we’ve heard so far suggests that it’s going to be a long time before you’re able to buy an Xbox Series X/S or PS5 with relative ease.
Here’s what we know about the current shortages impacting the Xbox Series X/S and PS5 as well as when you can expect these situations to be resolved.
Xbox Series X/S Stock Shortages
In a surprising move, Microsoft CFO Tim Stuart spoke at the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment Virtual Conference (as reported on by Seeking Alpha) about how bad the Xbox Series X/S shortage really is.
“You wish you had supply to meet the huge demand,” Stuart said. “I think what we’ve seen over the last generation and then heading into now is — and part of this demand profile is, frankly, gaming is just exploding.”
You probably didn’t need Stuart to tell you that it’s going to be difficult to find an Xbox Series X/S in time for the holidays, but what is a little more surprising are Stuart’s estimates of how long the shortage may last.
“You’ll be outside of a holiday window,” says Stuart in regards to when Microsoft expects to start better meeting demand with supply. “We’ll have supply cranking over the next, what, 4, 5, 6 months. And that’s when I expect to see really that demand profile start to be met, which will be really, really great.”
If that estimate is accurate (which, given the source, feels like a given), then you may not actually be able to reasonably purchase an Xbox Series X/S at will (or close to it) until March or April of 2021. While that trajectory is almost certainly based on the popularity of the console itself (which Microsoft noted enjoyed the biggest launch in Xbox history), it’s also a testament to the extent of the issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We absolutely believe that it’s going to be difficult to get an Xbox Series X/S by the end of the year if you don’t already own one, but we would have previously guessed that the situation may improve a bit after the holidays. Now, it seems that you’re going to want to pay close attention to any online restock notifications until further notice.
PlayStation 5 Stock Shortages
While Sony has not yet officially commented on when they expect to be able to supply enough PS5s to meet the ongoing demand for the console (at least since the console’s launch on November 12), analysts are suggesting that their situation could be as bad or worse than the one that Microsoft is dealing with:
We know that the initial PS5 shortage can at least partially be attributed to a shortage of the console’s chips (as well as distribution and manufacturing problems caused by the complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic), but as we’re already seeing in Europe where some who pre-ordered a PS5 were warned they may not receive their console until 2021, Sony faces some notable additional issues moving forward.
The fact of the matter is that the PlayStation brand has historically been more popular than the Xbox brand on a global scale. That increased popularity means increased demand, especially in Japan where Microsoft is still trying to truly establish themselves. Sony may have even more mouths to feed than Microsoft, and we’ve seen nothing that suggests they’ve been able to significantly advance their console production methods in a way that will allow them to immediately address customer requests.
Even if Sony is able to solve their production issues or at least address them in a meaningful way, it’s nearly impossible to imagine that PS5 stock will exceed Xbox Series X/S stock before March of 2021 at the earliest. You also have to remember that many physical retailers are still also greatly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which means that more and more people are turning to the same group of major online retailers who are, in turn, managing limited stock.
Again, all of this is to say that it’s going to be very difficult to get a PS5 before the end of 2020 at the very least.