If you are a player of any persuasion, there is a good chance that you are reading this article with some degree of frustration. Here in late 2020, we saw a series of product launches, from NVIDIA’s new RTX graphics cards in early autumn, to Microsoft’s Xbox Series X releases, Sony’s PlayStation 5 and AMD’s RX 6000 series GPUs most recently. . All of them, to some extent, were a disaster.
It’s a lot of new hardware coming on the scene in a short amount of time, so, no matter what the platform, now it must be an exciting time for all types of players. Instead, it is a disappointing time, with that hardware being sold immediately, regardless of what it is or where it is being sold. If you’re trying to get your hands on any NVIDIA or AMD graphics card, an Xbox Series X or a PlayStation 5, chances are you’ve come out of these efforts with nothing to show for except wasted time and a headache.
Of course, even if you are not looking for any of this hardware, it is difficult not to notice complaints about the stock situation of any of them. Subreddits dedicated to these machines or the brands that sell them are full of disappointed players, accusing each of these manufacturers of paper releases, expressing frustration that the shares apparently run out as soon as they are listed, or simply disappointed to have money to spend, but nothing to buy.
It is difficult to blame them for feeling as upset as they are. The COVID-19 pandemic basically ruined 2020 for many people around the world. It’s been a frustrating year for everyone for one reason or another, and now, as we approach the page for 2021, many people have finally had reasons to be excited about these console and GPU releases.
Being greeted by store listings that just seem to say “sold out” and nothing else or – even worse – being close to actually buying one of these products just to see them sold out before the checkout process ends an irritating end to a year that looks like very happy to have some instincts after having already knocked us down.
Obviously, just as the pandemic is the reason why everyone trying to buy a console or a GPU is lacking in patience, it is also probably the reason for this shortage of inventory in the first place. Discovering the logistics behind a highly anticipated product launch during a pandemic must be an absolute nightmare, and we have had several of these product launches in just the past few months.
So you have the fact that most of these launch sales were conducted online, not in the store. With the PlayStation 5, this was because an online-only release was required by Sony, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that online purchases represented the vast majority of sales for the Xbox Series X, RTX 3000 and RX 6000 series as well.
We’ve all been through enough product launches to understand that when buying online is your best chance to get a new product, you’re already working hard. The bots and scalpers that run them are in place for the online launch of any advance product, and when you combine them with a legion of regular consumers trying to get a console or GPU for them, you have inventory that runs out as quickly as it is listed.
It is an irritating situation for practically everyone involved. Players routinely miss a chance to buy a console or a GPU, while the companies that sell them have to deal with limited inventory, possibly restricted manufacturing because of the pandemic, and the scorned potential buyers that both produce. The only ones who come out on top are the money changers, who are more than happy to sell a console or GPU at double or even triple its price to people who are not patient enough to wait for stock levels to normalize.
This is also part of the problem – despite some encouraging news about vaccines emerging in recent weeks, this pandemic is still going on and, at least here in the U.S., several regions are looking for more blockades to try to slow the spread of the virus. The CDC is even encouraging people to stay home during Thanksgiving, which is unthinkable guidance before 2020.
So, the result is that we will have more bored people facing additional blocks and looking for a new GPU or console to pass the time. Manufacturing, particularly in the case of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, still needs time to develop as well. It is basically a perfect storm that ensures that the stock of these GPUs and consoles runs out immediately in the coming months. We expect the new consoles and GPUs to run out for some time immediately after launch, but this pandemic could cause these periods to extend much longer than normal.
It really looks like NVIDIA, AMD, Microsoft and Sony should have postponed the launch of these new products, but obviously the timeline between designing and launching a new piece of gaming hardware lasts for years, and launch plans generally don’t have contingencies in force for global pandemics. Still, with the pandemic fueling this stock shortage, for many people it is as if these products have never actually been launched.
Has 2020 diminished your next-generation gaming spirit, or are you feeling good about your console or GPU of choice as winter comes? Let us know in the comments!