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PS5 restock mess is so bad Sony was just forced to lower sales expectations

Sony PS5 on a table next to a TV
(Image credit: Future)

Even as Sony sells every manufactured PS5 available, it still can't fix its PS5 restock problem. 

Per a Q3 earnings report (opens in new tab), as reported by The Verge (opens in new tab), Sony was able to ship only 3.9 million PS5 consoles during the 2021 holiday season, which was at least better than its 2020 holiday numbers of 3.3 million. Fourteen months after the console's launch, supply-chain issues continue to plague PS5 production.

As of Dec. 31, Sony had shipped a total of 17.3 million PS5 units. That's three million fewer units than the number of PS4 units sold 14 months after that console's release. 

While three million might not seem like a massive difference, this time demand for gaming consoles is heightened as many people have been isolating indoors, and playing more games, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With less travel expenditure, people have both more time and money to spend on at-home gadgets.

Sony's gaming division, its most important division, saw revenue down by 8%. However, overall operating profits were up 12.1%. PlayStation accounts for a quarter of all the company's revenue. 

Either way, Sony had to tell investors to expect a lower 2022 forecast. Sony now expects to ship 11.5 million PS5s this year, down from a previous estimate of 14.8 million. 

In an analyst call, as reported by Venture Beat (opens in new tab), Hiroki Totoki, Sony's chief financial officer, said that demand remains high, and that "We can’t say exactly for sure what is the demand for next year." 

At least Sony's image sensors had an incredible quarter, with sales increasing 26%. Many top-end smartphones, such as the iPhone 13 Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, both top contenders on our best camera phones list, use Sony sensors. The upcoming OnePlus 10 Pro will reportedly (opens in new tab) sport a Sony camera as well.

As for movies, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Venom: Let There Be Carnage helped revenue at Sony's movie division jump 141%. On the TV side of things, Sony says licensing Seinfeld helped.

It seems that 2022 will remain a difficult year to procure a PS5. But as more systems get into people's households, demand should eventually start tapering off. 

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.