Xbox Chief Says Forget The Chip Shortage, Here's Why It's So Hard To Buy An Xbox Series X Or PS5

phil spencer
Even though many folks have spent a lot of time talking about microprocessor shortages, the real shortage hampering enthusiasts right now is actually a shortage of smaller discrete components. Things we don't normally have to think about at a component level, like power delivery components, are what's holding up most of the market; the chips for most consumer products are readily available.

This take lines up with statements made by Xbox honcho Phil Spencer in an interview for the New York Times' Sway podcast. Speaking to host Kara Swisher, he stated that early in 2020, Microsoft started to completely sell out of Xbox consoles, which hadn't happened before. While he admits that the company has had some supply issues, he goes on to say that they aren't preventing the company from producing Xbox consoles in large numbers.

In fact, he explicitly says that Microsoft's supply of Xbox consoles is "as big as it's ever been," and that the House of Bill and Paul simply can't keep the systems on store shelves. He extends his statement to rival Sony's PlayStation consoles as well, saying that "demand is exceeding the supply for all of us." Spencer casually drops the bombshell statement that "at this point" in the console's lifetime, "we've sold more of this generation of Xboxes (...) than we had any previous version."

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Microsoft's Xbox Series X (left) and Series S (right).

This generation of Xbox consoles comprises the Xbox "Series" family, so-called informally because the two devices are known as the Xbox Series S and Series X. The Series X is a potent machine that goes head to head with Sony's PlayStation 5 in both specifications and price ($499), while the Series S is a digital-only machine with a much less powerful graphics processor, less internal storage, and a smaller form factor. It goes for just $299—not a bad price for a machine that can outpace last generation's $499 Xbox One X in most games.

Spencer's comments echo his statements on the topic back in October of 2020. Most of the podcast isn't actually about this topic; host Swisher spends the majority of the thirty-minutes-plus attempting to prod Spencer into saying something politically-flammable, and to his credit, he remains professional. You can listen to the interview on the Times' website, or read the transcript if you're curious.