After more than a year and a half, it’s still almost impossible to purchase a new game console for retail price. Sure, there’s supply if you don’t mind a 50-75 percent markup, but everyone should mind that. Thankfully, Sony might be riding to the rescue soon. The PlayStation 5 maker promises it’s going to ramp up production to unprecedented levels. We’ll believe it when we see it, but it’s still encouraging to hear.
The PlayStation 5 and Xbox One X launched at the tail end of 2020, right in the midst of a historic shortage of components and a once-in-a-century viral pandemic that kept people at home and bored. It was possibly the worst time to go looking for an expensive new piece of gaming hardware. Predictably, scalpers managed to collect all the inventory and resell it at inflated rates.
Retailers have implemented some policies to slow down resellers, but it’s still hard to find a PS5 in stock that isn’t marked up to $800 or $900 from the $500 MSRP. In a briefing with investors, Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Jim Ryan pledged to increase supply of the consoles. It’s easy to see why investors would want that assurance. Sony only sold two million consoles in the first quarter of 2022, a significant decline from the previous quarter, but demand has not slumped. Sony says it can sell 80,000 PS5s in just 82 minutes, whereas it would have taken nine days to move than many PS4s at the 18-month mark. By not having more units, Sony is leaving a ton of money on the table.
Apparently, Sony believes it can boost production to a level that would allow the PS5 to surpass the total number of PS4 units in 2024. At that point in its life, the PS4 has moved between 40 and 50 million units, but the PS5 is currently hovering just under 20 million total. Sony will get there by working with more suppliers to guarantee access to components, but the rest of Ryan’s claims were sufficiently vague to be meaningless.
Until Sony can boost production numbers, gamers may continue playing on older hardware. At this point in the PS4 era, there were just 36 million PS3 players. Currently, there are 84 million still using the PS4, and that number won’t sink much until you can swing by your local retailer (or Amazon listing) and buy the PS5 for the real price.