Microsoft has a new Console Purchase Pilot program designed to help give Xbox One owners hoping to upgrade to an Xbox Series X or S a fighting chance. It's a program that should've been introduced a while ago and one that indicates the shortage nightmare is long from being over.
Make no mistake: It's a smart program. It encourages current Xbox fans to stay within the ecosystem by giving them a direct line of access to the newest consoles. It helps them avoid the headaches of scouring retailer pages and praying they beat scalpers to the punch. But smart or otherwise, the program's mid-May 2021 arrival says a lot about Microsoft's forecast for the future.
A complete sellout of units seven months into the products' availability would be unheard of in a normal console generation. The Xbox One and Xbox 360 never had to worry about a situation like this one. But thanks to the pandemic and associated production limitations, growth of gaming as a worldwide activity in general, and a global emphasis on stay-at-home entertainment, the Xbox Series X and S remain scarce commodities over half a year into their debut.
Perhaps you thought the shortages would start winding down soon. After all, we're talking about two machines that still have zero — yes, zero — exclusive AAA games. Early adopters and people who get really, really excited by something pedestrian like SSDs would explain why the X and S were sold out at launch, but surely by now, things would be starting to settle down, right? Wrong.
Microsoft's kickoff of the Console Purchase Pilot indicates the company sees shortages continuing for the indefinite future. The staggered rollout of the pilot, what with it being U.S.-exclusive and for Xbox Insiders only for the time being, implies that Microsoft's expecting shortages to last long enough for a slow rollout not only to be viable, but optimal.
We're talking months more of shortages here, at minimum. And as we enter the second half of 2021, the holiday season will only exacerbate issues. Does Microsoft foresee troubles lasting well into 2022? What about 2023?
The only thing that's certain is that Microsoft should've implemented a program like this one much earlier to try to cut scalpers off at the knees before they took over the market. And the fact that the tech giant still feels it's a relevant program to implement seven months after launch should make you wonder just how long the nightmare is expected to continue.