The new generation of Xbox consoles, the Series X and Series S, launched worldwide on November 10 of this year.
For both SKUs, securing a pre-order proved difficult for many consumers. The same was true for the PlayStation 5, which launched in the United States on November 12.
The availability for both consoles is incredibly low, and will likely remain that way throughout the Holiday season into early 2021.
In an interview published by The Verge today, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer discussed issues regarding pre-ordering consoles at launch. Spencer noted the issues people experienced while trying to secure a pre-order for the Xbox Series X and Series S, and he discussed some changes that he might want to see in the future.
When asked about the possibility of purchasing a console now to have it shipped in early 2021, Spencer said:
We’ve had real discussions internally about, should I be able to reserve my slot? I’ll put some money down, I know my machine’s getting built January 20th, and I’ll get it on February 1st. We have customers that would do that today.
Spencer also discussed partnerships with retailers and how allocating certain amounts of consoles for pre-orders and for launch-day purchases might be an outdated way of thinking.
We want people to feel like there’s some consoles to go buy, and it’s not just the day where everybody gets to go pick up their console. I don’t know if that’s the right decision in today’s world. That’s very old world thinking, people are going to go line up outside of a store, kind of last decade thinking. I think we should challenge ourselves on that. Is that really the supply chain through the consumer that we’re talking about, that is a reality? We talked to our retail partners about this as well.
Spencer later mentioned Sony’s President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Ryan and how they were both distressed over the reality that both Xbox and PlayStation consoles are hard to come by. He said the current situation might lead to new ways of securing consoles.
I do think this business is going through, both for us and Sony — Jim Ryan [at Sony], I have a lot of respect for him, we both have lamented how these preorders have gone and what problem are we really solving when we seem to still have as many upset customers as we have, because they can’t get our product. I do think it’s going to push us to think about new models. It could be, reserve your slot. It could be doing things more direct with the customer. Still could have the retailer fulfill the order, but just so people can have more clarity on when they can get a console. It’s something we’re working on.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Spencer’s quotes reveal a potential new strategy that Microsoft and Sony may implement for future console launches. The launch of both consoles this year was anything but smooth, as many would-be buyers are facing difficulty finding consoles at retailers. It seems that Spencer is clearly aware of the issue and is actively seeking to find a better way for fans to get the consoles they want.
This could even have ramifications on the way the console manufacturers release new stocks of consoles in the coming months. Scarcity of both the Xbox series of consoles and the PlayStation 5 is high, and purchasing a console will probably be difficult for a while. Spencer’s quote about a reworked system of securing a console may indicate that Microsoft is actively looking to make sure fans get the Series X or Series S early next year.