Sony Has Already Sold 4.5 Million PS5s, But Why Is It Still So Hard To Buy One?

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It should come as no surprise to anyone that pent-up demand for next-generation consoles has been immense. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have been hot-sellers ever since they launched in mid-November, and now Sony is giving us some insight into just how strong demand has been. The company revealed that it shipped 4.5 million PlayStation 5 consoles during the October through December quarter.

Interestingly enough, that 4.5 million exactly matches the number of PlayStation 4s that Sony sold during that console's Q4 2013 launch. Sony said that it shipped just 1.4 million PlayStation 4 consoles during Q4 2020, which represented a 77 percent decrease year-over-year. This seemingly confirms reports that the company is winding down PlayStation 4 production to shift resources to its successor.

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The strong debut of the PlayStation 5 resulted in Sony seeing a 40 percent uplift in revenue year-over-year for its Game & Network Services division [PDF]. However, the company also revealed that each PlayStation 5 console is being sold at a loss "resulting from strategic price points for PS5 hardware that were set lower than manufacturing costs." That profit shortfall is to be expected for a console so early in its lifecycle.

Looking ahead, Sony says that it forecasts cumulative sales of the PlayStation 5 will reach 7.6 million for Q1 2021.

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While it's great that Sony has managed to ship 4.5 million consoles so far, the incredible demand has meant that actually getting your hands on one of the consoles is a frustrating experience in failure. Bots have made the buying process incredibly frustrating, with inventory at online retailers like Target, Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart selling out within just a few minutes (or seconds). That leaves mere mortals with precious little time to get in an order.

Two and a half months after launch, the $399 PlayStation 5 Digital Edition and $499 PlayStation 5 are still selling for well over MSRP on eBay. A quick scan of recently completed auctions shows the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition selling for around $800, while the PlayStation 5's current going rate is $850. Prices are down quite a bit from their pre-Christmas highs, but that is still an outrageous markup compared to MSRP.