The global chip shortage is a nightmare before Christmas

The global chip shortage is a nightmare before Christmas

The global chip shortage has had a massive effect on the entire technology industry for more than a year, but a wave of gaming hardware news over the past week and change has shown that things aren’t going to get better anytime soon. Gaming companies big and small are going to be feeling the sting well into next year, and it’s not just Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen consoles that could be hard to get a hold of.

Nintendo was arguably the first to kick off the waterfall of news, revising its Nintendo Switch sales forecast for the fiscal year down by 1.5 million on November 4th “due to the effects of the global semiconductor shortage,” according to the company. Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa elaborated further in a Q&A, saying that “there has not been a major improvement in the situation” since the beginning of the fiscal year (which starts in April). The company is “evaluating alternative components and reviewing our designs,” according to Ko Shiota, GM of Nintendo’s Technology Development Division, but it’s unclear right now if anything it is looking at might make it easier to find a Switch on the shelf. (And if you don’t already have one of the Switch-compatible N64 controllers, you’re out of luck until next year.)

Valve’s Steam Deck handheld gaming PC was delayed two months from a December to a February launch on November 11th. “We did our best to work around the global supply chain issues, but due to material shortages, components aren’t reaching our manufacturing facilities in time for us to meet our initial launch dates,” Valve said in a blog post. Even before the delay, we had a sense that Steam Deck supply was going to be tight, as estimated order availability slipped to early 2022 very soon after the initial reservations went live. But now, even people who had secured a December 2021 order date are going to have to wait a bit longer.

Sony reportedly expects to make fewer PS5s, according to Bloomberg. The company originally forecasted it could assemble 16 million consoles in the current fiscal year (which ends in March), but now, it plans to make “about 15 million,” Bloomberg says. The PS5 has been incredibly hard to find since it launched in November 2020, and that’s likely not going to become easier soon: Sony’s manufacturing partners told Bloomberg that meeting Sony’s goal of 22.6 million PS5 sales in the next fiscal year will be difficult.

Panic’s Playdate handheld has been pushed from late 2021 to early 2022. While the delay for initial units was due to faulty batteries, components for future Playdates are challenging to come by, according to the company. The Playdate’s current CPU, for example, isn’t available for two years, which has forced the company to redesign the main board with a more readily available CPU for Playdates made later in 2022. Panic warns that “there are a number of other part shortages we’re trying to outsmart right now,” so if it can’t get past those, that might mean it will be hard to get a Playdate down the road. If you have any interest in a Playdate, you might want to preorder one now to secure your place in line.

These are only some recent shifts that we know about — there could be other issues and delays behind the scenes that we’re not aware of. Microsoft’s Xbox boss Phil Spencer warned of ongoing shortages in September, saying that Xbox supply issues will last into 2022. And the issue goes far beyond gaming hardware makers, with Intel saying that the chip shortage could last until at least 2023 and Apple, which is renowned for its mastery of its supply chain, taking a $6 billion hit last quarter because of constraints. Despite that, you can still get many Apple products by Christmas if you order them now from the company’s website, but that’s not as much of a sure thing for most gaming hardware.

Amidst the many delays, there is one potential bright spot. The Analogue Pocket retro handheld, which has already been delayed a few times because of supply chain challenges, is “still on track” for a December launch, Analogue founder and CEO Christopher Taber told The Verge in an email on Wednesday. But if even Nintendo and Sony are having trouble, you might not want to get too excited until you have the Pocket in your hands.

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