Xbox Series X stock update: Microsoft just shared bad news

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It’s always tough to find new consoles at launch, and it seems like the Xbox Series X won’t be an exception. Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, has compared how many consoles the company can supply with the number of likely buyers between now and the end of the year, and it looks like a lot of gamers are going to go home empty-handed. If you’re hoping to get your hands on an Xbox Series X, you’ll probably have to do a lot of legwork, or else wait until 2021.

Information comes from the Dropped Frames podcast, via TechRadar. Spencer appeared as a guest on the podcast, and discussed Xbox Series X availability, among other things.

“We know what our supply will look like basically for the rest of the year,” he said. “We’re going to have more demand than we do supply.”

It doesn’t take an econ major to parse that statement. Microsoft simply won’t have enough consoles to fill customer demand for the rest of the year. It’s not really unexpected, given that this is how every console launch has gone for the last few decades, but it’s still a little disappointing to hear. This means that, among other things, many potential buyers won’t be able to give or receive the Xbox Series X for the holidays.

(It’s worth noting that the situation for the PS5 is exactly the same.)

Still, Xbox fans have a few options at their disposal. It’s not clear whether Spencer is talking about both new Xbox consoles or just the flagship Xbox Series X. Therefore, it’s possible that the smaller, less powerful Xbox Series S may be easier to find between now and January. (Anecdotal evidence suggests that the demand for the Series S has been much lower than for the Series X, but that may be due to fewer Series S consoles being available in the first place. Still, it’s something to keep an eye on.)

The easier option is — and I promise I am not being snarky here — simply don’t try to get an Xbox Series X at launch. After all, there’s nothing on the Xbox Series X that won’t also be available on the Xbox One and PC, thanks to Microsoft’s commitment to cross-platform compatibility. Subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and you can play most first-party Microsoft titles on Xbox One, PC and even Android via cloud gaming.

Likewise, many third-party games, such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion, will take advantage of Microsoft’s Smart Delivery functionality. If you buy an Xbox One version, you’ll get a free Xbox Series X upgrade whenever you pick up a new console. As such, you won’t miss out on any games, even if you have to play them at lower resolutions and frame rates for a while.

In any case, the Xbox Series X will not be the first console to break the “no units at launch” curse. If you really want one, keep an eye on your favorite retail sites, and consider braving stores in person on launch day. Otherwise, hang tight until early next year; the games aren’t going anywhere.

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.