Video Game Chronicle reports that Phil Spencer, executive vice-president of Gaming at Microsoft and current head of Xbox brands, believes that the current console shortage will be continuing for some time yet. Spencer was present at entertainment insider The Wrap’s media conference event “The Grill” last Thursday, where he said that the console shortage that was supposed to end this past summer can’t be boiled down to “just a chip problem.”
Spencer went on to say, “When I think about, ‘what does it mean to get the parts necessary to build a console today, and then get it to the markets where the demand is’, there are multiple kind of pinch points [sic] in that process. And I think regretfully it’s going to be with us for months and months, definitely through the end of this calendar year and into the next calendar year.
“The thing that’s most disappointing is just the fan disappointment. People really want this new generation of consoles—they’re good consoles, both from us and the other platform holders—and they want the new functionality. We’re working hard to bring them to market but it’s going to be a challenge that we’ll work through for quite a while.”
The Xbox Series S and X, as well as the PlayStation 5, have been in perpetual short supply since their releases in November of last year. Many fans have followed newsletters and Twitter accounts with sale information to try to get ahead of the pack and into the queue to buy one of these still-rare consoles. Their coming lineups are looking more and more promising after showcase events and ongoing consolidation through the companies that manufacture the consoles purchasing more studios to develop games for them. Despite that, the Xbox Series were estimated in June to have already outpaced the Xbox One and Xbox 360 for the same time frame, while Microsoft CEO announced in a late July earnings call that they were the fastest selling Xbox consoles ever.
The global chip shortage, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States-China trade war, the Taiwanese drought’s effects on its semiconductor industry, and the further emergence of blockchain technologies like NFTs, is an example of wider issues across the world. Supply chain problems certainly are not limited just to videogame console components. The Suez Canal was blocked twice this year—once for six days and seven hours by Panama-registered, Taiwanese-operated ship the Ever Given in late March, and then for less than an hour on Sept. 9. As of Tuesday, Sept. 28, more than 70 ships at California ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach were unable to unload goods because of worker shortages (CNBC). And the U.S. appears to be facing the looming spectre of food shortages. So suffice to say that Phil Spencer is correct; this is not just a chip problem.