Hundreds of millions of people worldwide would love to own a brand new Sony PlayStation 5. Only a tiny fraction of those people have been able to buy one. An inability to afford the five-hundred-dollar-plus console is the biggest barrier to joining the owner’s club for most people, but ongoing stock shortages also carry much of the blame. Since the day the console was released in late 2020, the console has been constantly out of stock everywhere. Because of that, you might be inclined to think that this has been the lowest-selling PlayStation of all time thus far. You’d be very wrong. It is, in fact, the fastest-selling video game console ever made.
This revelation will almost certainly shock anybody who’s been trying without success to buy a PlayStation 5 for more than half a year, but the bulky console has reached the ten million sales mark even faster than the PlayStation 4 did. In turn, the PS4 reached that mark faster than the PS3. This begs the question of how much of the shortage is down to issues with chips and dispatch and how much of it is down to overwhelming consumer demand. The PlayStation 5 is the hottest piece of hardware in the gaming world, and everybody wants to get their hands on it. Given the current level of interest, it’s likely that Sony would still struggle to keep up with demand even if production conditions were normal.
It’s not just Sony that’s benefiting from an increased level of interest in consoles. The Xbox Series X, with which Microsoft has supply issues of its own, is selling faster than any Xbox in history too. That fact might not be of much consolation to Microsoft given that the PS5 outsells its competitor by two to one in most markets, but it reflects the growing level of interest that the general public has in playing video games. Whether such high demand would exist were people not stuck at home because of pandemic-related issues is another matter, but that won’t and shouldn’t bother either manufacturer. Of far more interest to them will be the interesting development that both consoles are now comfortably outselling the Nintendo Switch. That wasn’t the case earlier this year when supply issues were at their most acute.
Aside from coming as a surprise, the news is also a slap in the face to anyone who thought that the golden era of video game consoles might be coming to an end. We live in the age of super-fast internet connections, which enables real-time streaming. The same technology that allowed casino companies to create online slots websites now allows video game companies to create game streaming portals. The media might be different, but the principle is exactly the same. Here in the 2020s, high-end online slots websites eliminate the need for people to visit a casino or even stand in front of a real gaming cabinet. Streaming platforms like Google Stadia and Amazon Luna eliminate the need to own a games console. That’s why both Sony and Microsoft now offer access to their console games via streaming to PC users, or in fact, anyone with a compatible device. The idea hasn’t yet quite caught fire in the same way that online slots websites have, but that day is surely coming. The debate about whether the PlayStation 5 will be followed by a PlayStation 6 will continue, but the sales success of the current console arguably makes such a development more likely.
Drilling down into the figures, the PS5 didn’t beat the PS4 by much. The previous incarnation of the PlayStation took exactly eight months and twenty-eight days to sell ten million units. The PlayStation 5 broke the ten million barrier in eight months and sixteen days. The difference would likely be more pronounced had Sony not experienced such difficulties with manufacture and supply in the early months. Even with those difficulties, the console is currently on target to become the biggest-selling console Sony has ever made. That honour currently belongs to the PlayStation 2. Although sales of the PS4 continue to be strong, the console is expected to fall just short of claiming supremacy. The PS5 will eventually get there, assuming that sales don’t drop off in the years to come. Given the stellar lineup of games scheduled to be released for the platform in the next 24 months, there’s no reason to believe that will happen.
If you’re still on the lookout for a PS5, your chances are probably better in the USA and Japan than they are in the rest of the world. Amazon, in particular, gets new stock of the console every week, although stock always sells out as soon as it lands. Delays are more pronounced in Europe, where many retailers have refused to allow pre-orders on account of demand for such a service making it impossible to manage. The UK attributes the delay to a shortage of chips and semiconductors, but there’s a suspicion among some retailers that the US and Japan are getting preferential treatment compared to Europe. Several dedicated social media accounts provide real-time updates about where consoles have come into stock in Europe, so you’re best advised to keep an eye on them if that’s where you live. In the US, you should be able to pick up a console at the start of every week through Amazon or Walmart so long as you set your alarm and get up early to secure your order.
The PS5 has been criticised for its comparative lack of exclusive PS5-specific games thus far, so this news is a boost for the company. Now that game developers have confidence that there’s a potential audience of more than ten million if they can come up with the right game, we should hopefully see more games coming to the market. We know that more than thirty AAA games are currently in development – including at least twenty that Sony has a direct hand in developing – so we ought not to be waiting long. Here’s to a fantastic twelve months of gaming ahead, and if you haven’t been able to land yourself a PS5 yet, we hope one turns up for you soon!