It’s Only February, But Santa Can’t Guarantee You a PS5

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We’ve come a long way since last March, when toilet paper was harder to come by than a Gen-Z’er who can drive stick.

For gamers, the supply chain problems have only just begun. Jim Ryan, the CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, couldn’t guarantee Sony would have enough PlayStation 5 consoles to meet holiday demand (ten months away) in a recent interview.

Like many problems in the modern era, the problem comes down to semiconductors.

Grand Bereft Auto

The insatiable demand for electronics and gadgets, coupled with ongoing trade tensions with China, has pushed semiconductor manufacturers well past their breaking point.

Sony’s Ryan says he expects the supply issues will “ease incrementally throughout 2021,” but lamented, “there are very few magic wands that can be waived.”

And it’s not just consoles that have felt the crunch:

  • Automakers including GM, Ford, and Porsche — all of which use chips in their vehicles — have warned investors about a lack of supply or slowed production.
  • An analyst at Gartner described a situation where, “if that 10-cent chip is missing, you can’t sell your $30,000 car.”

All told, global chip sales are expected to grow 8.4% this year, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. Sales grew 5.1% from 2019 to 2020.

Virtual Gamble: Despite the chip conundrum and a crowded field vying for supplies, Sony says its “aspiration” is to sell more PS5 consoles in 2021 than the 14.9 million units the PlayStation 4 sold in its first year. Sony is also pressing forward with plans for a new virtual reality headset to connect to the PS5.