PlayStation 5 shortage over, announces Sony exec Jim Ryan

PlayStation 5 shortage over, announces Sony exec Jim Ryan

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Getting your hands on a PlayStation 5 has been extremely difficult since the console launched in November 2020, but after more than two years of relentless shortages, the drought may finally be over.

Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan took the stage at CES 2023 on Wednesday to say that anyone looking to buy a PS5 “will have a much easier time finding it at retailers around the world starting from this moment on”. Ryan also noted that “the supply of the PS5 improved at the end of last year”, with December 2022 being the console’s second month of sales. The console, Ryan said, had sold over 30 million units.

Since the console’s release, inventory has been low due to a number of factors, including an ongoing global semiconductor shortage. Severe drought-like weather in Taiwan (home of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest chipmaker) greatly hampered chip production, as fabrication plants require several million liters of specially treated ultrapure water per day. The Covid-19 lockdown caused semiconductor foundries to close as consumer demand for electronics skyrocketed.

These issues were also exacerbated by trade tensions between the United States and China. While tensions remain high, particularly over Taiwan, both nations have looked to the future and invested heavily in chip self-sufficiency. The United States has pledged $52 billion to build more domestic semiconductor foundries. Several other governments, such as the European Union and India, have also adopted plans to boost local chip production.

As a result, almost all electronic devices that use microchips have become more expensive. In August, Sony announced price increases for the PS5 in mainland Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Mexico, China, and Japan. The United States remains unaffected.

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For game consoles like the PS5, supply chain issues and a lack of purchase safeguards created a thriving industry of machine-powered reseller houses, which used bots to crawl sellers for PS5 spots and bought dozens console at the same time. The same issues also crippled Microsoft’s Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X consoles. Retailers have adopted stricter purchasing protocols to protect against resellers following widespread consumer backlash. During the peak of the reseller market in November 2020, the PS5 often sold for double its MSRP, for an average of $1,000 per console. Last year, resale prices for the PS5 increased by 30 percent, despite the console still being in low supply.

Sony did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication about why PS5 availability may have changed.

Piers Harding-Rolls, a games industry analyst for research and analytics firm Ampere Analysis, told the Washington Post in an email that ‚ÄúSony has been working hard to secure its PS5 component supply chain through 2022. It is now in a more comfortable position, but it has also had to increase the price of the console. I expect some price pressure to have come as a result of expanding supply chain relationships and negotiating new deals to secure key components during a time of rising inflation.”

Time will tell if it will become easier to find a PS5 in 2023, or if North America will see price hikes imposed on other markets. However, Ryan’s statements offer a hopeful sign for those still trying to get their hands on a PS5.

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