Gamers still hard-pressed to get PlayStation 5 consoles

The PlayStation 5 console is the most in-demand Christmas gift in 2022. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Manufacturing and supply chain disruptions amid the pandemic have resulted in a short supply of the PlayStation 5 (PS5) game console, and this has pushed some gaming enthusiasts to buy units meant for overseas markets.

Checks by The Straits Times showed that most authorised retailers in Singapore have only a small number of units available or none at all in stores here.

Similar shortages have been reported in stores overseas, from Britain to Australia.

In Singapore, some buyers have turned to resellers who secured units meant for markets such as South Korea and Japan.

University student Sophron Chua, 24, paid $770 on e-commerce platform Shopee for a Japanese domestic unit PS5 during the 11.11 sale, after stores here told him he would have to wait months for a local set.

He said the few local units available were being sold as part of a package, but he was unwilling to fork out $300 more for games and accessories.

Civil servant Johann Koong, 24, settled for a similar arrangement in September. After trading in his faulty PS4, he paid $900 for a unit that came with two controllers.

“A few shops said the wait for a local set was going to be four to five months. Another said they didn’t even know if the restock will arrive this year, so I just took the risk as I wanted to play with my friends,” he added.

These units meant for overseas markets are being sold on e-commerce platforms at about $760 for a digital set, which restricts users to digital versions of games, and $900 for a console with a disc reader.

But they are not covered by the one-year local warranty.

This did not deter Mr Chua, who said: “I usually don’t run into issues, but it’s a risk I took anyway. The risk was not big enough to turn me away, as I felt it was time to upgrade from my old PS4.”

Meanwhile, PS5’s rival – the Xbox Series X gaming console by Microsoft – continues to be widely available. On its website, local retailer Game Xtreme is selling the Series X at $699.

The PS5 consoles are listed at between $599 and $729, but there is no stock available.

“The PS5 is basically the most sought-after product on our shelves. Demand has been non-stop. It has been like that since the launch (in November 2020),” said Mr Jimmy Lim, the operations manager of Game Xtreme.

He added that a monthly shipment of around 100 PS5s allocated by Sony can be sold out within days.

“We don’t know how many sets we will receive in advance. Sometimes it’s 100, but sometimes we can go a few months without stock,” said Mr Lim.

A recent study by Japanese e-commerce platform Rakuten showed that the PS5 console is the most in-demand Christmas gift in 2022. But it is less popular in countries such as South Korea, with some studies showing mobile devices and personal computers accounting for about 90 per cent of the console gaming market.

Since the PS5’s launch, Sony has sold about 25 million units worldwide. As for its predecessor – PlayStation 4, which was launched in 2013 and is still available – reports show that Sony has sold about 120 million units.

Mr Soon Qishan, founder of video game retailer Qisahn at Far East Shopping Centre, said the store has no PS5s for sale, but is awaiting a shipment of units in December.

Sony sets the monthly allocation of PS5s to each authorised dealer. But retailers said the number of consoles supplied each month varies, with most receiving between 50 and 200 units monthly.

Sometimes, they are not allocated any unit. Because of the unpredictability, Mr Soon has scrapped his store’s pre-order service.

“We used to have a waiting list, but it caused a lot of unhappiness as there were around 1,500 people waiting.

“Some people have waited over a year to get a PS5,” said Mr Soon, who added that he is unable to sell PS5 consoles meant for overseas markets because of contractual obligations with Sony.

He added that walk-in customers, who have to trade in their PS4 to buy a new PS5, will buy up all available units within days of their arrival in Singapore.

Mr Soon Qishan said some people have waited over a year to get a PS5. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Some local retailers have introduced the condition to prevent scalpers from hoarding local PS5s and listing them online for resale at higher prices.

GameMartz manager Sam Chiang said his store takes a different approach – bundling games or accessories with consoles to discourage scalpers.

The 50-year-old said he is unable to predict the monthly supply of PS5s, adding that he has none for sale for the busy Christmas season.

Funz Centre founder Chris Sng said the consoles at his store were bundled with other PS5-related products to ensure they are sold to genuine gamers.

In response to queries, a spokesman for Sony Interactive Entertainment said that the stock situation here is expected to improve in 2023, following signs that availability in the United States picked up in 2022.

“Coming out of a pandemic and into new global challenges back to back has been particularly demanding for global supply chains in the last two years – with semiconductor shortages and logistic challenges a key contributing factor and consequence towards delivery shortages,” added the spokesman.

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