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What the Tech: Will the global chip shortage ruin Christmas?

With major manufacturers warning of the ongoing problems of procuring the all-important chips needed for the PS5, graphics cards and pretty much everything inbetween, is Christmas as good as cancelled?

If you’re a gamer who has been eagerly waiting for an enticingly large box underneath the tree for these past twelve months, then I am looming before you much like the Ghost of Christmas Future to sound a chilling warning of all the potential pain and misery coming your way — and unlike with Ebenezeer Scrooge, no amount of repentance can save you from it.

Microsoft, Sony, and Valve have all been forced to change their plans for the upcoming festive season due to the ongoing global chip shortage, meaning that you may well miss out on the prized present that you’ve requested from Father Christmas. In fact, don’t even bother asking the big guy up North for a Steam Deck at all, because the launch has been delayed by two months until February 2022.

Shortages of the PS5 and Xbox Series X / Xbox Series S will also persist, as insider sources state that production numbers of the former have been slashed by one million, and an official statement from the latter regretfully concluded that shortages will: “remain for months and months, definitely through the end of this calendar year and into the next calendar year.”

That’s right; after missing out on the consoles at their launch and patiently waiting all this time for the big day to arrive, after noting down on your wishlist all those exclusive titles you want to play, and after watching all the videos and reading all the reviews you can get your hands on to prepare yourself for joining the cutting-edge next generation of the gaming experience, you may have to pretend to be excited about receiving a nice woolly jumper instead.

If you haven’t guessed already, these persistent problems have largely been caused by the Covid-19 pandemic (the reason that last Christmas was ruined too), which has wreaked havoc with production schedules all over the world. There’s a kind of bitter irony in the fact that video games helped so many of us get through the nightmare of enforced isolation over so many months of this ongoing public health nightmare, and yet now even that pastime is at risk as well.

After all we’ve been through over the past couple of years, you’d like to think that Christmas could at least be a time of relaxation and good cheer — rather than feeling more fearful of a chip shortage than when you’re in a late-night queue at the kebab shop. Alas, it’s not to be, and for some of us the arrival of Christmas Day will be, well, about as disappointing as eating that very same kebab when you’re sober.

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