PS5 restock: Sony addresses massive shortage

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Finding a PS5 is a little easier now than it was in November, but not by much. Resupplies can last for up to 10 minutes now, rather than about 30 seconds. That’s good news in a vacuum, but still not very helpful for console-seekers who don’t have all day to devote to refreshing retail websites.

Jim Ryan, PlayStation’s CEO, has some good news, however: Sony is doing its darndest to increase PS5 production. The bad news, of course, is that the world is still in the middle of a pandemic, and that slows down the supply chain considerably.

Robert Leedham GQ conducted an extensive and wide-ranging interview with Ryan, in which they discussed everything from the PS5’s 2021 lineup to the upcoming PSVR successor. The very first thing Leedham asked was about the PS5’s still-very-limited availability.

“All I can say is we’re working as hard as we possibly can,” Ryan said. “We’re working as we always have, but with renewed vigor and energy post Christmas to get supply up, it will increase as each month passes. And the situation will start to get better hopefully quite quickly. We have been relentless in terms of trying to increase production and I can’t really say more than that.”

While Ryan’s answer doesn’t give us a hard date for widespread PS5 availability, the “hopefully quite quickly” remark is encouraging. Historically speaking, consoles are extremely scarce right after debut, but when the supply and demand even out, they do show up everywhere seemingly overnight. The PS4, for example, was essentially impossible to find around Christmas 2013; by March 2014, most electronics stores had a steady supply.

Ryan does at least give a reason for the PS5’s supply-chain woes, and unsurprisingly, it’s the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Obviously in a pandemic supply chains become a little more complicated than would normally be the case,” he said. “One very visible example is the difficulties in the semiconductor market. [Whether] it’s automobiles, smartphones, PCs or games consoles, the problems in all those areas are very widely documented. We had to move to a distribution model that is entirely online and that’s something we never had to do before.

“And, finally, just the level of demand for PlayStation 5,” he added. Even by console launch standards, there are simply an awful lot of people who want a PS5, and want one right now. (Remember that many of those people are stuck indoors, and gaming is both a way to pass the time and a lifeline to friends in the outside world.)

In any case, “Sony is working hard to improve PS5 production” may not come as a shock, but it’s better news than “Sony has hit a brick wall and PS5 production will slow to a trickle.” While Sony’s popular new console may seem impossible to find now, someday soon, the scenario may flip, and we’ll all wonder why we spent so much time and energy worrying about the big white box.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

  • TheKLF99
    One thing I don't understand with this is that a lot of these consoles are very quickly ending up on eBay with purchasers blatantly price gouging them and eBay allowing them to break their own policy on this - eBay keep claiming that it's not breaching their price gouging policy as they don't see it is an essential items - however their price gouging policy does include price gouging of any items in response to an emergency or disaster in the second bullet point - is the current COVID crisis not classed as a "disaster"? - and even Sony's CEO states production is down due to the covid pandemic

    "Jim Ryan, PlayStation’s CEO, has some good news, however: Sony is doing its darndest to increase PS5 production. The bad news, of course, is that the world is still in the middle of a pandemic, and that slows down the supply chain considerably."

    Therefore I believe eBay are allowing many sellers to blatantly go against their price gouging policy at this time as detailed below (I've highlighted and underlined the bits I believe are in breach of their own price gouging policy

    eBay is an important source of goods for buyers during emergencies and when supply chains are disrupted. Sellers offering essential items must offer them at reasonable prices, and may not attempt to unreasonably profit from increased demand or decreased supply caused by emergencies or disasters.

    What is the policy?Items that are considered essential must be offered at a reasonable price
    Inflating the price of goods in response to an emergency or disaster is not allowedeBay may restrict the sale of items that are susceptible to price gouging behaviour - for example, by only allowing items to be sold by authorised sellers
    Sellers must follow all applicable laws and regulations that apply to the sale of their itemsActivity that doesn't follow eBay policy could result in a range of actions including, for example: administratively ending or cancelling listings, hiding or demoting all listings from search results, lowering seller rating, buying or selling restrictions, and account suspension. All fees paid or payable in relation to listings or accounts on which we take any action will not be refunded or otherwise credited to your account.
  • Wolfshadw
    I know it's not what it says, but the price gouging policy only applies to Essential items. The PS5 is not an essential item. Nor are graphic cards or CPUs or Tickle Me Elmos.

    -Wolf sends