Gaming

Xbox and PlayStation shortage: the elves are tired

AwareNovember 14, 2021, 10:08

Swiss retailers are trying to make the arrival under the tree of next-gen consoles a reality. It is far from being earned.

Sale of the first stock of PlayStation 5, in November 2020, in Seoul. A year later, in Switzerland, the shelves are empty and the stores are “Sold Out”.

AFP

Pandemic, shortage of raw materials, shortage of components, slow production, shipping congestion and strong demand… All elements are ready for Christmas 2021 to enter shortage mode for many daily consumer products.

The phenomenon is particularly notable in the game console market. And for good reason: in November 2020, two next-generation console models were introduced: the PlayStation 5 (two versions, one with a disc drive and the other without) and the Xbox Series (the X, more powerful and equipped with ‘to reader, the S without reader and calibrated for screens with a definition below 4K).

First classical scenario

With the exception of the slightly less coveted Xbox Series S, the two ranges were separated from their respective releases and sold out a few days after and sometimes even before their official release due to the magical effect of pre-orders. . Quite classic scenario, said, comparable to the one observed when the PS4 and Xbox One were launched in 2013 … without the folk gatherings 2.0 in front of the supermarkets, the confinement requires.

It goes bad after

It’s after things get worse. While optimistic omens called the end of the shortage likely towards the beginning of spring 2021, it has persisted. And at the beginning of November we find the same litany on Swiss online sales sites: “Not available at the moment. No expected delivery date ”. This is the case both at digitec.ch and at Fnac Suisse, m Electronics (Migros), Media Markt, Inter Discount (Coop) and other local players, large and small. And the non-essential stores may have reopened, but their shelves are not full yet.

First victim, the average player, the one who told himself a year earlier “There is no fire in the lake. Let Christmas pass and I will advise you ”. We know some of them, we have the names. The latter meet Gros-Jean as before, the season of blockbusters arrives.

Speculation

What to do then? Run into the gnarled arms of a reseller, for example. Scalp? New buzzword that qualifies the savvy who shop and deplete to immediately put their acquisition up for auction.

A *, a father of a family and a gambler in his spare time, has yielded, tired of war, to the sirens of the gray market. He recently responded to an ad and got away with a new console with two controllers for 650 francs, or 90 francs more than it would normally have cost him. In this context, consider having made a good deal. In a way, yes, knowing that speculators are raising prices up to 900 francs for an item whose starting price is 499 francs.

The hunt has begun

But Christmas is coming. Manufacturers have a market to flood and, although it is difficult for them, they are working on it. For example, Sony very recently sent some cargo planes full of PlayStation 5s to the Old Continent to overcome congestion and slow shipping. Destination: United Kingdom. History does not say how consoles are distributed in Europe and whether Switzerland will benefit from a few crumbs. Apparently he got off to a bad start. Because if Sony has launched a direct online sales channel, designed to avoid speculative purchases, only the inhabitants of Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Not Switzerland on this list. And already in the French version of the site, it is “Sold Out” that was shown, on Friday, instead of a possible “Purchase” or “Reservation”.

Big purchasing power, small market

Switzerland precisely. Great purchasing power but small market. Two peculiarities that leave Stephan Kurmann, communication director of Digitec, an online site owned mainly by Migros in suspense. Does one counteract the other? The truth: “in general, we do not receive the requested amounts”, is limited to specifying. This explains why each of the rare PS5 and Xbox Series X stocks were sold out in the first few hours. And in the middle, the famous sold out message. Will the situation improve in the coming weeks? Without being able to give precise figures, Stephan Kurmann indicates that he expects a next PS5 arrival, but in a package, therefore with an imposed set or accessory, which inflates the bill.

For the Xbox Series X, Stephan Kurmann tells us that Digitec was able to get hold of a certain number of (undisclosed) copies. Shares must be offered “soon” to clients. But the representative hopes that the demand will again far exceed the supply. Why has the brand given up on offering reservations? By the inability to decently manage an overgrown list of customers quickly expressing frustration with turnaround times that have become unpredictable, he says in substance. “We had set up such a system for graphics cards (for PCs), but it became unmanageable and we had to give up,” he says.

Red, orange, red

All signs are red. The next few days, and this Sunday the 14th, the probable date of the sale of Series X as it appeared last Thursday on Digitec.ch/fr, could turn orange before turning too quickly to crimson. And recent press releases from this or that manufacturer forced to announce that they must revise their production targets downward do not encourage optimism. Sony, and even Nintendo, have recently been forced to exercise with signs of drying in progress for their hybrid Switch consoles, so far more or less spared.

And the rest is not at all encouraging. Nobody (builders or analysts) dares to evoke a future rebound. “Although we are securing many more equipment and producing many more PlayStation 5 units next year, our supply should not be able to keep up with demand,” CFO Hiroki Totoki was quoted as saying by the US site Bloomberg. By 2022, the tone is set. The same story at Microsoft, which, for its part, sees the dematerialization of games as a way to solve the hardware problem. Your long-term strategy (via the cloud) can certainly be tested by everyone today. But according to our tests and those of several beta testers, it still does not offer an alternative, in terms of performance and comfort, capable of competing with video games on machines (PC or consoles).

Your finger on the keyboard? No way!

In this context, the fear expressed by Julien Villedieu, general delegate of the national video games union in France, increasingly resembles a prediction: “the real question lies in the behavior that consumers will adopt if the shortage continues. The consoles of this generation could be rejected by the public if the situation does not improve ”.

“I’m not going to spend my Sunday fingering the keyboard trying to get a console that I probably won’t have. My current one looks great on me. ”This was repeated to us by a regular follower of the practice doomed to run more and more next-gen games on a previous-gen machine.

* Name known to editorial staff

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