Skip to main content

PS5 restock shortage explained — here’s why it’s such a nightmare

PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Which console wins?
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

You're asking where to buy a PS5 but you can’t, because nobody has any stock. But why don’t they have any stock? Aside from outrageous demand for the consoles, from both gamers and scalpers alike, there are limitations on how many Sony can build.

There’s a serious chip shortage going on right now, and it’s not just affecting the production of game consoles. They’re crucial, because without all the right chips your PS5 might as well be a giant plastic doorstop.

According to a CNBC report, lots of companies are warning about slowed production due to the ongoing chip shortage. They include dedicated chip-makers like AMD and Qualcomm, as well as car manufacturers GM, Ford, Honda, and Fiat Chrysler. 

Even Sony and Apple confirmed they were having issues getting enough components, which means that there arent' enough PS5s and iPhone 12s to meet demand.

We’ve already heard about how AMD is suffering chip shortages that have directly impacted PS5 and Xbox Series X production. We're talking about shortages that won’t be solved until June at the earliest. But the issue is far more widespread than that, and it’s affecting all the industries that rely on computer chips in their products. Which is pretty much all of them these days.

The question is, why is this happening?

Part of the problem stems from a greater demand for electronics during the pandemic. The first wave of demand came from people needing equipment for remote work or learning, but by last fall that demand shifted towards home entertainment. 

Former President Trump’s trade war with China has also been cited as a cause for chip shortages. A lot of manufacturing is done in mainland China, and last year the Trump administration placed restrictions on the country’s biggest chip manufacturer, Semiconductor Manufacturing International (SMIC). SMIC was prevented from getting more advanced chip making equipment, which is preventing the company from running at full capacity.

All together, those factors are combining to make the worldwide chip shortage we’re experiencing. Thankfully, not everyone is affected, since some companies had already stockpiled essential chips ahead of the sanctions. CNBC notes that Toyota had a four-month supply of chips stockpiled, putting it in a prime position to continue manufacturing as normal while competitors struggle.

Fortunately, most tech isn’t in quite such high demand as the PS5, and if one company struggles you can always pick up something similar from a competitor. 

Game consoles don’t quite work that way, and the chip shortage is seriously hampering Sony’s ability to produce enough consoles. It certainly doesn’t help that scalpers are buying up all the stock they can, in order to flip those consoles for an outrageous price.

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.