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PS5 Shortages: Who Deserves the Blame?

PlayStation 5

The ongoing PS5 shortages have left many without a next-gen console in time for the holidays and many more people with the question “What happened?”

It’s a valid question that has led to a significant amount of finger-pointing. There are a lot of frustrated people out there right now who are just looking for someone to blame all of this on.

While the answer may not be quite so simple as that, a look at the PS5 shortage situation so far reveals a few suspects who deserve some of the blame in this instance.

Sony is to Blame For PS5 Shortages

When you’re looking for someone to blame, it’s always tempting to go right to the top. In this case, that means Sony.

The case for blaming Sony is, in many ways, the simplest one to make. After all, if Sony had just made more PS5 consoles or found a way to ship them faster, then there would be more PS5’s to buy, right?

While there is a conspiracy theory that suggests Sony intentionally made fewer PS5’s to increase demand, that’s a theory which (like so many conspiracies) does not hold up to any level of scrutiny. Sony inevitably made some missteps along the way in terms of how they decided to manufacture and ship the PS5. You could even suggest that they may have underestimated demand and other logistics.

Yet, Sony has nothing to gain from shipping anything less than as many PS5s as possible as soon as possible. As we dive into the many other factors that contributed to the PS5 shortage, you may find actually find that Sony arguably deserves the least amount of direct blame.

Retailers Are to Blame For PS5 Shortages

Many of those who tried to purchase a PS5 online likely encountered some kind of bottleneck issues that made the process incredibly difficult or downright impossible. Some even had a PS5 in their cart but were not able to actually complete the checkout process.

The fact of the matter is that retailers have been dealing with this problem for quite some time now. Even Amazon, one of the largest companies in the world, couldn’t seem to handle the massive influx of people trying to buy a PS5 at once. There wasn’t a single major online retailer that seemed to be working properly on launch day or when PS5 pre-orders were opened.

Some of the blame here is absolutely on online retailers who have yet to solve this problem despite seemingly knowing it is going to happen every time before it actually does. There has to be a better way of handling these product launches.

However, there’s one more factor to consider here before you think about placing all the blame on retailers…

Scalpers Are to Blame for PS5 Shortages

You’ve probably seen the photos of people stockpiling PS5s despite apparent “one per customer” restrictions that were in place. Whenever you see one of these scalpers, it’s easy to say “That’s the reason I don’t own a PS5.”

We don’t know how many scalpers there really are or how many PS5s they actually bought, but there is something to this theory. After all, a single scalper can easily clean out a retail store’s PS5 stock if that store doesn’t care about the rules or doesn’t have them in the first place.

More importantly, multiple online scalpers using an army of bots can easily crash even major websites by creating a kind of DDOS effect. It’s highly likely that these bots are the reason that so many websites crashed rather than normal, individual shoppers logging on at once.

Of course, there’s at least one major reason that scalpers may have been more effective than usual this time around…

COVID-19 Is to Blame for PS5 Shortages

It feels silly to talk about COVID-19 in relation to the launch of next-gen video game consoles considering the many other ways the pandemic has affected the world this year, but it is absolutely a contributing factor to the PS5 shortages we’re seeing.

COVID-19 has impacted everything from game development, to console manufacturing, to retail stores being able to open at the capacity that allows them to serve as an effective outlet during the launch of a next-gen console.

The PS5’s launch was not destined to be smooth in a world where COVID-19 never existed, but there’s little doubt that the whole process would have gone smoother if this nearly unprecedented pandemic was not a factor.

Nobody is to Blame for PS5 Shortages

This argument has the unique honor of being the most and least likely possibility.

As you’ve gathered from the information we’ve presented so far, there are numerous factors that contributed to the ongoing PS5 shortages. That being the case, you could argue that there’s really nobody to necessarily “blame” in this instance. Most consoles endure some kind of struggles at launch, and the PS5 is really no different in that respect.

That said, the impact of COVID-19 and the ways the pandemic enhanced problems that were bound to exist anyway has to be considered the biggest single reason why it’s so hard to get a PS5 right now. Our only hope is that things get better from here.

Matthew Byrd

Matthew Byrd covers the gaming industry including indies, consoles, PCs, iOS and Android apps, as well as topics related to entertainment and technology.