Microsoft Expects Console Shortages Into 2021

Posted on November 16, 2020 by Brad Sams in Games, Xbox, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X with 19 Comments

Every time there is a hardware launch, there is almost universally a shortage of supply. In the early days of the iPhone, it was common for the supply to run dry but as the product has aged, Apple has done a decent job of matching supply and demand as each year, it’s a known figure.

But when it comes to building consoles, predicting demand is much harder as these products are released roughly every seven years or so. Couple this with the pandemic and supply chains being interrupted and you have a perfect storm for console shortages.

If you were hoping to pick up a new Xbox before the end of the year, or even in early 2021, you are going to need a bit of luck – if you didn’t already pre-order a device. In an interview with Tim Stuart, the CFO of Xbox,  he said the outlook is dim for those looking to get a new Xbox console during the next couple of months.

Specifically, he stated “I think we’ll continue to see supply shortages as we head into the post-holiday quarter, so Microsoft’s Q3, calendar Q1. And then when we get to Q4, all of our supply chain continuing to go full speed heading into kind of the pre-summer months”

In his estimate, he sees shortages potentially resolving in 4 months but possibly as long as 6 months. Keep in mind these are not definitive timelines as the true demand for the hardware is not yet known but what this means for the short-term is that finding a console is going to be a challenge.

The entire interview is worth a listen if you like hearing how the CFO of Xbox thinks about acquisitions and content strategy but the short version is that everything is geared towards Game Pass and creating a pipeline of content.

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Microsoft Expects Console Shortages Into 2021”

  1. madthinus

    It would be telling if their is no shortage.

  2. thretosix

    It's not exclusive to Microsoft. Sony is having the similar issues. Nvidia is having similar issues. AMD is having similar issues. It's not all about scalpers though they are a part of the problem. I had no problems getting one on the initial pre-order day. I knew it would be an issue and was prepared. Several people I know also had no problems obtaining one. I've seen people even say they've gotten them on a second or third wave of pre-orders even people getting some on launch day. Shortages doesn't mean you can't get them, if you really want one you may just need to try harder.

  3. ken10

    With this news release, the scalper bots can now add X% increases to their online eBay prices.

  4. davehelps

    Anecdotal, but I was able to impulse-buy a Series S from MediaMarkt in Switzerland last week, on their 11% off sale day.

  5. crunchyfrog

    I bought a Nintendo Switch last December before the pandemic hit for when I travel for business. I haven't seen a Switch in store since February or March and I don't expect to see any consoles until next spring at all in stores.

    The good news is that it saves us all $500 or so until they catch up with production - and it will eventually catch up.

  6. retcable

    Has there ever been a game console launched, timed perfectly in the weeks before Christmas, that has not been in "short supply", thus becoming the "must-have-or-my-kid-will-die" gift under the Christmas tree? With all available units snapped up by trolls to appear on Ebay for thousands of dollars and selling easily. I really do not believe there has. This is standard procedure for Microsoft, Sony, Sega, Nintendo, you name it. Scarcity=demand, gotta have it factor and instant cachet. Don't fall for this trap, people.

  7. techguy33

    Online retailers blew it letting scalpers buy 20 units then turn around and sell for 300% profit. And why none of these retailers or MS themselves let you place your order now then ship it when they get more units in?

  8. Username

    Is it possible that this has little to do with predicting demand and more to do with cautious approach to mitigating initial quality control and hardware bugs?

    • Paul Thurrott

      The problem is that it is almost certainly related to component supply, and Microsoft would have known about that and should have been more upfront about it too.
      • remc86007

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        I agree. The problem is almost certainly the limits of TSMC's output of the SOC. If that is true, there might be quite a bit more availability of the Series S going forward than the Series X since the SOC is significantly smaller and therefore uses way less room on the wafer and has a significantly lower chance of a defect per die.


        I'm thankful I was able to order my Series X on launch day through all-access and it showed up three days later. They seem to be shipping more consoles than I thought they would be able to considering TSMC is already spread thin trying to make the new Ryzen parts, Radeon GPUs, PS5 and Xbox.

  9. jwpear

    So it's a hard computer science problem to predict demand and manage the supply chain. I get that.


    It is unforgivable that I can't place an order from Microsoft.com/Xbox.com and simply get into the queue.

    • wolters

      In reply to jwpear:

      Exactly...a queue would be awesome right now. I am using Best Buy because I have a bunch of rewards points with them but they just show SOLD OUT and no hope for a "queue"...

    • mattbg

      In reply to jwpear:

      I didn’t get it, either, but to some extent I understand. Putting people in a queue is an obligation, and a lot of people will be upset if they don’t get satisfaction by Christmas. Further, you would likely get people adding themselves to multiple queues simultaneously and then returning the ones that didn’t arrive first.


      If they have very little chance to deliver by the end of the year, it is not worth the hassle, IMO.

      • jwpear

        In reply to mattbg:

        I was thinking along the lines of what Apple does. I can place an order from their site and get into the queue. Apple will tell me what the projected delivery date is. Retailers don't offer this. It's only available from Apple. Microsoft could do this and there would be one place for a queue.


        I don't so much care about taking delivery before Christmas or the end of the year. Would be nice, but not a big deal. I just want to get in line. It seems absurd to have to search all the retailers to try to find it.

  10. mebby

    Dang... Are they so burned by the Surface RT that have to keep limiting production? Or is this truly an issue of limited supply?


    I have had a Xbox since this beginning. Have not missed major version. Now I am going to see if I still need something new after 6 months? I tried to pre-order both times on an impulse. Now I have time to ponder...

    • mattbg

      In reply to mebby:

      That’s the right attitude, no?


      As many reviewers including Paul have pointed out, there is very little rational reason to want this console right now because there’s no exclusive content for it. You get a faster dashboard and load times on the games you could already play on the console you’ve had for years for $500. I get the appeal of that as an enthusiast but it’s not rational and is most definitely an impulse purchase that some will regret.

      • Noel

        In reply to mattbg:

        There are games currently available and games that will be released before the end of the year that will not be released on the Xbox One family of consoes.

        I have been playing the Falconeer.

        It's very good

  11. techguy33

    LOL now on the MS site you can enter order and get in the queue but you won't get the unit until January. When I enter payment info get the error below. What a complete clown show

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