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The Never-Ending Chip Shortage

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By Nelson Schneider - 05/02/21 at 03:40 PM CT

If you haven’t managed to snag a 9th Gen console or a new PC graphics card for anywhere close to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, you might be SoL at this point. According to numerous big players in the silicon microchip industry, things don’t look like they’ll improve until sometime in 2023. Yes, that’s TWO YEARS away!

I managed to snag the new hardware I needed to refresh my 9-year-old gaming PC for a mix of prices. While I was able to get the CPU and all the other components for the MSRP (No sales, rebates, or discounts to be found, alas!), I ended up paying triple-MSRP for my graphics card, much to my annoyance. If I had pulled the trigger a couple months earlier, I could have had it for merely DOUBLE the MSRP, which at this point feels like a huge savings. Of course, learning that the chip supply, and thus the prices of hardware, would continue to be out-of-whack until the Summer or Autumn of 2021 was what ultimately spurred me into action instead of continuing to wait until things “get better.” With this new information that low supply, high demand, and outrageous price-gouging will continue for years instead of months, I’m glad I ripped-off the band-aid and got it over with.

Of course, this is the type of economic disaster that happens when Big Tech continues to operate as though nothing was wrong. But with the ‘new normal’ of annual climate-related disasters and ever-worsening typhoon-and-hurricane seasons, nobody should be surprised when putting all your manufacturing eggs in one basket – a basket located in the heart of typhoon country – leads to infrastructure damage, which then leads to a massive loss in production capabilities. Coupled with the outrageous demand for graphics cards by unscrupulous cryptocurrency profiteers, it feels like a perfect storm against the average customer for microchip-based devices and products. Even Apple, who owns their own chip fabrication plants, is feeling the pinch… of course, those Apple plants are still located in the same region as all the others.

At least the Biden Administration has its head out of its ass in this regard, with a strong desire to invest in America’s ability to self-supply its own microchip demand (at least in-part), but also to correct a historical “underinvestment” in domestic chip fabrication. Unfortunately, it’s likely the concept of treating important manufacturing capabilities as ‘infrastructure’ will get sacrificed as ‘unnecessary pork,’ along with daycare and preschool in order to bring any Republicans to the bargaining table.

It will certainly be interesting to see what long-term impact this unprecedented shortage will have on the Games Industry as it crawls into the 9th Generation.

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