These days buying a PS5 is a very straightforward task. Head over to your retailer of choice, enter your payment and shipping information, and click the “buy” button. In fact, getting your hands on Sony’s current-gen console is now as simple as buying pretty much any other everyday item. But it wasn’t always this way.
For the PS5’s first two years on the market, finding the console in stock at its regular retail price was, to put it bluntly, an absolute nightmare for many shoppers. Industrious people were able to make a living by tracking PS5 restocks and helping desperate gamers and parents get hold of a console. And the restock game is one that I became very familiar with, as I provided daily PS5 stock updates for Tom’s Guide readers.
As rumors of the Nintendo Switch 2 continue to circulate, and generally reliable industry insiders suggest that a 2024 launch is likely, I’m already growing worried that Nintendo may similarly struggle to meet the expected demand from consumers.
I’m very excited about the potential of next-gen Nintendo hardware — a new Switch is long overdue at this point — but the impending thought of chasing Nintendo Switch 2 restocks for potentially years to come definitely has me concerned.
Get ready for Switch 2 restocks
Anybody who tried to buy a PS5 (or Xbox Series X) between its launch in November 2020 and early 2023, can attest that hunting console restocks was mostly a hugely frustrating experience. In the first year especially, buying a console required a huge slice of good fortune and having to jump through several loops, or even shell out for a retailer-specific membership like Walmart Plus or GameStop PowerUp Reward Pro.
The limited stock level of Sony's in-demand gaming machine wasn’t helped by how quickly unscrupulous scalpers arrived on the scene to gobble up as many available units as possible in order to then resell them at a significant markup. And some retailers also took advantage of the demand by opting only to sell the PS5 in pricey bundles that often contained items that could be considered less than desirable.
Having to go through all of that again to get hold of a Nintendo Switch 2 when the console does finally launch, will be far from appealing to anybody who chased PS5 restocks. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that the PS5 stock shortage was fueled by a chip shortage and the global pandemic. But even if the Switch 2 doesn’t have to face these unforeseen factors, it will still be a hugely desirable product that is likely to sell out across pretty much all retailers almost instantaneously.
A recent leak has suggested that Nintendo is favoring an LCD display for the Switch 2 instead of OLED and this is reportedly in order “bring down costs” and presumably help with production. So perhaps Nintendo is mindful of the need to ensure an adequate supply of its next system at launch. Nevertheless, we’ve even seen stock shortages of the current Switch lineup in recent years, so it’s hard to imagine that whatever hardware Nintendo releases next won’t face some form of stock shortage.
Even prior to its announcement, it seems almost an inevitability that if you want to pick up a Nintendo Switch 2 at launch, or within its first few months on the market, you’re probably going to have to play the restock games, so you best get prepared.
The impact of stock shortages
The consequences of a hypothetical Nintendo Switch 2 stock shortage could stretch beyond the console being a real pain in the butt to obtain. Again looking at the example of the PS5, the current console generation has been extremely slow off the mark, and that’s in large part because getting hold of a unit was difficult for so long.
Even more than 30 months since the launch of the PS5 many of the biggest games of the year are still releasing on PS4. The likes of Hogwarts Legacy and Resident Evil 4 launched on the last-gen system, with a PS4 port of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor also in the works. Publishers have been very reluctant to leave behind the PS4 hardware because the next-gen install base isn't big enough yet. And it’s led some to wonder if this is holding developers back from unleashing the full power of the PS5.
My concern is that something similar could happen with the Nintendo Switch 2. If the console suffers from stock shortages, Nintendo and its third-party partners may opt to continue supporting the current Nintendo Switch family for months, if not years, post the launch of the Switch 2. Don't forget the regular Switch is already struggling to run some of its flagship exclusives, for example, Bayonetta 3 and Splatoon 3.
In a worst-case scenario, holding onto less powerful hardware could have a negative impact on the games that are released on a second-generation Switch console. Publishers may insist that developers create games that are playable on both systems until the Switch 2 stock levels have caught up with demand.
A lengthy scarcity of Switch 2 stock is definitely something that I hope can be avoided. It would make getting purchasing the console around launch a real challenge, and could potentially prevent developers from getting the most out of Nintendo's new hardware, in the short term at least. That’s why I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed that Nintendo has a plan to ramp up production and ensure that getting hold of a Nintendo Switch 2 at launch isn’t too painful.