If you like games, there’s a good chance you’ve read this article with some degree of frustration. Here at the end of 2020, we have seen a number of product launches, ranging from new NVIDIA RTX graphics cards earlier in the fall, to the recent launch of Microsoft Xbox Series X, Sony PlayStation 5, and AMD’s RX 6000 series GPUs recently. All of them, to an extent, were a disaster.
There are a lot of new devices hitting the scene in a short amount of time, so regardless of the platform, now should be an exciting time for all kinds of players. Instead, it’s a disappointing time, as these devices are instantly sold out no matter what they are or where they’re sold. If you’ve been trying to get your hands on any NVIDIA, AMD, Xbox Series X, or PlayStation 5 graphics card, chances are you’ve walked away from those efforts without showing anything but wasted time and a headache.
Of course, even if you aren’t looking to pick up any of these devices, it’s hard to miss complaints about stock statuses of any of them. Subdisplays dedicated to these machines or the brands that sell them are filled with frustrated players accusing each of these manufacturers of running paper launches, expressing frustration with seemingly selling stocks once listed, or disappointment that they have money to spend but nothing to buy.
It’s hard to blame them for feeling upset the way they are. The COVID-19 pandemic has basically destroyed the year 2020 for many people around the world. It was a disappointing year for everyone for one reason or another, and now as we close to turning the page into 2021, a lot of people have reason to get excited about something with the launch of this console and GPU.
To be greeted by store listings that just seem to say “out of stock” and nothing else or – worse yet – to be close to actually purchasing one of these products just to get it out of stock before you can finish the checkout process is an annoying end to a seemingly happy year. Too much to get a few hits after we’ve already hit.
Obviously, just as the pandemic is the reason everyone tries to purchase a console or GPU that is impatient, it is also likely the cause of this inventory shortage in the first place. The logistics discovery behind the much-anticipated product launch during the pandemic should be quite a nightmare, and we’ve only launched a number of these in the past few months.
Then you have the fact that most of these launch sales were made online rather than in the store. With the PlayStation 5, it was only because Sony was launching online, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that online purchases accounted for the vast majority of sales for the Xbox Series X, RTX 3000 Series, and RX 6000 series as well.
We’ve all gone through enough product launches to understand that when buying online is your best chance for a new product, you are already operating from the back. The robots and speculators who run them are launching any prospective product online, and when you combine them with legions of regular consumers trying to get a console or GPU for themselves, you have inventory that sells as quickly as it’s listed.
It’s an annoying situation for nearly everyone involved. Gamers routinely miss the opportunity to purchase a console or GPU, while the companies selling it have to deal with limited inventory, possibly restricting manufacturing due to the pandemic, and the despised potential buyers both of these produce. The only ones that have come out on top are the speculators, who are more than happy to sell a console or GPU at a double or even triple price to people who are impatient enough to wait for inventory levels to return to normal.
That’s part of the problem too – despite some encouraging vaccine news coming on the pipeline in the past few weeks, the epidemic is still going on, and here in the United States at least, multiple regions are looking at more lockdowns to try to slow the spread of the virus. . The CDC is even encouraging people to stay home during Thanksgiving, a directive that would have been unthinkable before 2020.
So, the result is that we will have more bored people experiencing extra shutdowns and looking to choose a new GPU or controller to pass the time. Manufacturing, especially in the case of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, still needs time to ramp up as well. It’s basically a perfect storm as it is guaranteed to sell stock of these GPUs and controllers instantly for months to come. We expect to sell new consoles and GPUs for some time right after launch, but this pandemic could make those periods extend much longer than usual.
It really seems like NVIDIA, AMD, Microsoft and Sony should have postponed the launch of these new products, but it is clear that the timeline between the conception and release of a new piece of gaming hardware spans years, and these launch plans do not usually have contingencies for global epidemics. However, with the epidemic fueling stockpiles, it is as if these products have never been launched.
Will 2020 ease your spirits into next-generation gameplay, or do you sit beautifully with the console or GPU of your choice as winter sets in? Let us know in the comments!