If you are a player of any persuasion, there is a pretty good chance that you are reading this article to some degree of frustration. Here at the end of 2020, we’ve seen a number of product launches from NVIDIA’s new RTX graphics card earlier this fall to the recent launches of Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, Sony’s PlayStation 5 and AMD’s RX 6000 series GPUs. Everyone has been a disaster to some degree.
It’s a lot of new hardware hitting the stage in a short time, so whatever the platform, right now, it should be an exciting time for all kinds of players. Instead, it is a disappointing time where the hardware sells immediately no matter what it is or where it is sold. If you have tried to grab any graphics card from NVIDIA or AMD, an Xbox Series X or a PlayStation 5, chances are you have gotten away from these endeavors with nothing to show but wasted time and a headache.
Of course, even if you do not want to download any of this hardware, it is difficult to miss the complaints about storage situations for any of them. Subreddits dedicated to these machines or the brands that sell them are full of disappointed players who accuse each of these manufacturers of running paper releases and express frustration that stocks are apparently selling out as soon as it is listed, or otherwise just disappointed that they have money to spend, nothing to buy.
It’s hard to blame them for feeling so sad. The COVID-19 pandemic has largely ruined 2020 for many people around the world. It has been a frustrating year for everyone for some reason, and now that we’re close to turning the page to 2021, many people finally had reason to get excited about something with these console and GPU launches.
To be greeted by store listings that only seem to say “Out of stock” and nothing else or – even worse – to be close to actually buying one of these products only to have them sold out before you can finish checkout. an annoying end to a year that seems too happy to get a few gut kicks after it has already knocked us down.
Clearly, just as the pandemic is the reason why anyone trying to buy a console or a GPU lacks patience, it is probably also the reason for these storage shortages in the first place. Finding out the logistics behind a highly anticipated product launch during a pandemic must be an absolute nightmare and we have had a number of these product launches right over the last few months.
Then you have the fact that most of these launch sales were conducted online rather than in-store. With PlayStation 5, it was because Sony launched an online launch, but it would not surprise me to hear that online purchases accounted for the vast majority of sales for the Xbox Series X, RTX 3000 series, and RX 6000 series as well.
We have all been through enough product launches to understand that when you buy online, your best chance of getting a new product is that you are already working from behind. The bots and scalps that drive them are in effect for the online launch of any expected product, and when you combine them with the legions of regular consumers trying to get a console or GPU for themselves, you have stock that sells out as soon as it is listed.
It’s an annoying situation for pretty much everyone involved. Players routinely miss the chance to buy a console or GPU, while the companies that sell them have to deal with limited inventory, possibly limited production due to the pandemic, and the despised potential buyers that both of these things produce. The only ones that come out on top are the scalps who are more than happy to sell a console or GPU for double or even triple the price to people who are not patient enough to wait for stock levels to normalize.
It’s also part of the problem – despite some encouraging vaccine news that has come down the pipeline in the last few weeks, this pandemic is still going on, and here in the US at least more regions are looking at more lockdowns to try to slow down the spread of the virus. The CDC even encourages people to stay home over Thanksgiving, a guide that was unthinkable before 2020.
So the result is that we get more bored people facing additional lockdowns and wanting to download a new GPU or console to spend the time. Production, especially in the case of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, still needs time to run up. It is basically a perfect storm that ensures that the storage in these GPUs and consoles is sold immediately in the coming months. We expect new consoles and GPUs to be sold out for a period immediately after launch, but this pandemic could cause these periods to extend far beyond normal.
It really feels like NVIDIA, AMD, Microsoft and Sony should have endured launching these new products, but of course the timeline between conceiving and releasing a new piece of gaming hardware is years long, and these launch plans do not usually have the contingency in place for global pandemics. With the pandemic promoting these shortcomings in stock, it is still for many people as if these products were not actually launched at all.
Has 2020 dampened your next-generation gaming spirit, or are you sitting pretty with your chosen console or GPU as winter rolls in? Let us know in the comments!