Supply issues and Covid-19 complications have made the recent console generation transition a rocky one, with ongoing shortages making it nearly impossible to reliably procure a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S. But current gen consoles aren’t the only ones playing hard-to-get. Outside of overpriced refurbished units or marked-up used consoles, scoring a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One is just as difficult in the U.S. right now.
This console shortage news began as controller shortage news. A source close to retail chain GameStop contacted Kotaku to warn us of a shortage of new DualShock 4 controllers, the gamepad that ships with the PlayStation 4 console. Stores in our source’s district have been lucky to receive maybe two new DualShock 4 controllers in a given month as of late. Though as of this writing the GameStop website lists standard black DualShock 4 controllers as available to ship for $US60 ($81), while every other model is only available as pre-owned and priced at $US53 ($71). The DualShock 4 situation is even worse at Amazon, where “renewed” controllers are being sold for $US70 ($94), the MSRP for a new one, while new DualShock 4 controllers sold by third party retailers are priced at over $US100 ($134).
I spent the morning calling various GameStop stores across the East Coast, from my local Atlanta area up to Kotaku headquarters in New York City. Not a single store in a dozen had a new PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Dualshock 4 controller in stock. Several stores indicated they hadn’t received shipments of new controllers or consoles in weeks, and only had preowned consoles and used controllers in stock.
Our editor-in-chief recently reached out on Twitter to ask folks if they’d had trouble acquiring DualShock 4 controllers. Most of the responses indicated that yes, getting a new DualShock 4 was tough. One warned to watch out for lower-quality third-party controllers being sold as official Sony products. One responder reported success purchasing a controller via Sony’s online store, which is currently listing all DualShock 4 controllers as sold out.
Meanwhile, shiny new PlayStation 5 DualSense controllers seem to be in ample supply across most retailers. They are certainly easier to procure than the console they were made for. Unfortunately the DualSense controllers do not work on the PlayStation 4, unless you want to remote play your PS4 via your PC, which is frankly a ridiculous thing to do.
Controller-wise, things are much better on the Xbox side of things. Since the new Xbox Series X/S controllers work perfectly fine on Xbox One consoles, Xbox gamers have plenty of options to choose from at normal retail prices. Compatible across two console generations and widely used as controllers for PC and remote play applications, the Xbox controller is rarely out of stock.
The Xbox One console, on the other hand, is difficult to find brand new. GameStop lists the Xbox One S and X, but neither are available new. The retailer has plenty of refurbished consoles selling at $US10 ($13) less than the new-in-box price, a meager markdown which is a sure sign of console rarity. Meanwhile, on Amazon …
That’s a sub-$US300 ($403) console on sale for $US560 ($752). The “w/ Accessories” portion of the listing seems to indicate the controller that comes in the box. Maybe avoid console shopping on Amazon.
Note that these shortages are affecting North America retailers and may not carry over into other countries. British Kotaku contributor John Walker reports successfully adding a new PlayStation 4 Slim console to his cart at both Amazon UK and Game. Game also seems to have a whole lot of DualShock 4 controllers on offer at reasonable prices. Amazon UK, however, has none.
We’ve reached out to both Sony and Microsoft to ask about the current hardware supply chain, and are still waiting to hear back. It’s very likely the Xbox One shortage is simply an effect of the previous generation winding down. There are chip shortages and ongoing covid-related concerns, but the fact that a brand new Xbox Series S console costs $US300 ($403) and runs all the games the slightly cheaper Xbox One S console does is the most likely cause. Outside of the lack of Xbox Series X/S supply, there’s just no real reason for the older consoles anymore.
The reason the PlayStation 4 and DualShock 4 controllers are in short supply might be a little more complex and will certainly affect gamers more profoundly. While Xbox One owners can readily use an Xbox Series X/S controller if need be, PlayStation 4 gamers looking to replace their controller either have to pay a premium, opt for a preowned controller, or roll the dice with a third-party option.
As for PS4 consoles, the lack of new systems feels like more of a tragedy. There are hundreds of games to be played between the PS4 and PS5, and getting your hands on either is a huge hassle. Is the supply chain that bad? Is the lack of PS5 consoles forcing PlayStation-hungry consumers to snap up PS4 consoles as well? Should we blame cryptocurrency miners using bays of PS4 consoles to mine very small amounts of virtual currency?
Whatever the case, buying a new last-generation PlayStation 4 or Xbox One console is tough right now, and it’s likely to get tougher as the year goes on. The Nintendo Switch, on the other hand, is widely available everywhere right now, with more coming when the new (OLED Model) launches this October. Mario Golf, anyone?