No PS5 for You

I tried my darndest to get a PS5 on launch day. No one said it was going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean it should be this frustrating. But here we are.

Before I begin, however, I will note that most everything these days is more difficult and aggravating due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The fact that both Sony and Microsoft saw fit to launch their next-gen machines (well, current-gen now, I suppose) during the pandemic’s winter upswing doesn’t do anyone any favors in this regard.

Considering the pre-order fiasco that befell the PS5, I suppose it was only fitting that PlayStation 5 launch day was going to be a poop show. And sure enough, there was more than enough feces to go around. And since we are still currently dealing with COVID-19, this means stores aren’t showcasing in-store, on-the-shelf models for anyone who randomly walks in off the street.

This narrowed one’s options for obtaining a PS5 down to one: the internet. And, as we all know, when the internet is your last bastion of buyer’s hope, you are in a sinking ship, my friend. And it was a sinking ship in which I found myself on November 12 of 2020.

Rats Abandoning a Sinking PS5

Because in an era of scalpers and shopping bots, to say nothing of the tens of millions of actual consumers vying for what I can only imagine were hundreds of available consoles, you would literally need to have Christ as your last name to stand a chance in hell.

I didn’t begin down this troublesome path on launch day, though. No, I began this journey of folly on November 10, at around 9 p.m. I was casually checking Target’s website on the off chance that — like PS5 pre-orders — the console might go on sale hours earlier than anyone expected. At no point during the next two days did a Target within 50 miles of my zip code have any in stock. I know because I spent those two days checking obsessively and adding both models to my watch list.

Rumors began to swirl around 10 p.m. that GameStop would have several of their $750 bundles available. And sure enough, somewhere around midnight, they did in fact boast as much on their website. Unfortunately, they were gone before you could even add one to your cart.

A Rat Profiteering of PS5 Units

This left Walmart as the only viable option, especially since they were staggering the purchase window for whatever few consoles they had. I missed the initial window, so I went to bed. When I awoke in the morning, I fruitlessly checked the websites, unsurprisingly finding a deluge of out-of-stock messages waiting for me.

It was at this point that I decided to throw in the towel and go about my business. I’ll get one when I get one. Shoot, it’s not like there are even any games to take advantage of the the system. Lord knows I’m not champing at the bit to play Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Besides, do I really want to experience the first-run woes that plague most electronic devices these days? I mean, we’ve already seen folks having disc issues with their Xbox Series X.

Xbox Series X On Fire

So I breathed a heavy sigh and returned to my normal routine.

That is, until I received an email from Walmart at around 11 a.m. that claimed the PS5 was back in stock. I rushed to get the Walmart website to load, but it was buckling under the stress of having everyone and their neighbor vying for the available units. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful, but Walmart assured me that more would be available at 2 p.m.

So, I continued about my day, keeping a watchful eye on the clock until the magical hour appeared. I was ready to go this time, logged into my Walmart account with the PS5 page on constant refresh. Once it went live, I was able to get one into my cart and make it all the way to the checkout phase. There were two left, I was assured, and since I had one in my cart already, there would surely be no reason to expect it to be sold right out from under me. But that was a fool’s thought process, and I was, as it turns out, a fool.

This cycle would repeat again at 5 p.m., and for a final time at 8 p.m. that same day. With each successive attempt, I made it slightly closer to finalizing my transaction, but each time I was greeted with the Walmart customer assurance equivalent of a giant middle finger: “Out of stock; please try back later.”

A Rat Buying a PS5 at Walmart

So here I sit, with nothing to show for my efforts other than personal disdain and a dying idiotic notion that I would actually be able to get my hands on a PS5. As I look to eBay as a reference point, I can see by the myriad accounts with a dozen-plus models for sale — starting at around $800 and going all the way up to $1,800 or more — that some were lucky enough to nab more than their fair share. It’s just unfortunate that of the ones that were lucky enough to get multiple units, few were the intended recipients — you know, the people that actually want to play and enjoy the dang things.

And that brings me back to the question that’s been burning inside me for days now: Why even bother to release these consoles right now? We knew back at the start of the pandemic that production was going to be an issue. It should’ve been obvious that stores couldn’t have — nor would they even allow — massive throngs of people gathering together to get one. And that’s to say nothing of the billions in lost wages and millions of people trying to feed their families this season. Thankfully, I have a stable enough income that I don’t have to worry about this, but some people aren’t as fortunate as I am.

But if only a small number of players get their hands on a PS5, thus limiting the user base (while keeping the user base of the PS4 quite high), is there incentive enough to even produce PS5-exclusive titles at this point? Will this only end up staggering the next generation the same way simply waiting to roll them out until next year would’ve done in the first place? Only time will tell, I suppose.

In the meantime, let me refresh the Walmart page again…


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