Moby Dick

Now that it’s March, you can start to sense that Spring is in the air. As the snow and ice begin to melt; as the grass begins to show ever more of its golden, dead glow; as birds begin to propagate more and more tree limbs; we can finally start to shed the gloom of yet another winter. As this chipper mood of optimism and hope settles over me, I can’t help but think, “Man wouldn’t it be great to own a PlayStation 5 right about now?”

But alas, even though it’s been almost four months since Sony launched its latest iteration of its PlayStation hardware, it is still nigh impossible for the average person to get their hands on a PS5 without making that effort their full-time job. Between scouring Twitter, spamming digital storefronts, searching for clues in the clouds, and just plain-old hoping for a stroke of dumb luck, trying to acquire a PS5 is still friggin’ ridiculous.

I know Sony was hoping that, by releasing the PS5 before Christmas, they would ensure healthy sales of their shiny new console. And, in the most basic sense, they were correct. It’s just that a majority of those consoles, it would seem, ended up in the hands of “middlemen” looking to gouge their fellow men — and during a pandemic no less.

Sony has pretty much sold through their initial stock, and I’m sure they are happy with the numbers that moved, regardless of to whom they were moved.

This is probably short-sighted, though. Especially since Sony is taking a decent hit by selling the PS5 at a loss. They are, no doubt, hoping to recoup their costs and efforts by moving first-party software and PSN subscriptions. This is, after all, an age-old, tried-and-true strategy for console manufacturers, and there is no reason to think that they will not eventually turn a profit by rolling out this business strategy yet again.

Rat Buying a PS5 Online

Except — and I’ve made similar arguments in the past — this model is unsustainable if there are not enough actual customers to buy software. They aren’t going to move 4 million copies of, say, the new (hypothetical) Ratchet & Clank if 40% of manufactured consoles are collecting dust. mildew, and Mountain Dew stains on a shelf in some scuzzy scalper’s apartment.

As someone who is simply, casually trying to exchange hundreds of dollars of my money for a product that I want, only to be consistently unable to casually buy said product, I find myself less enthused with every burn. It is getting to the point that I just don’t really even care to make the effort anymore. Is there even a point of owning a PS5 at this point? is there any purpose in trying and failing to own one?

If Sony would’ve simply waited another year to beef up stock, to formulate a plan of sale and delivery, to allow the community — whose word-of-mouth marketing is invaluable — to actually own one of the things, maybe things would be different.

A Rat Buying a PS5 at Walmart

Look, I get it, dirtbags will be dirtbags, and scalping is unavoidable. But when the market can sustain healthy levels of supply for a ravenous demand, scalpers are no longer incentivized to buy and hoard. We are still dealing with a global pandemic here — you would think people would want to help ease the burden of their fellow person, not exacerbate and profit off them. Of course, people couldn’t do the barest of minimums in order to limit the transmission of this epidemic, so I guess I’m the fool for thinking there’s empathy across the board.

I imagine, at some point, I will eventually end up with a PS5. It will most likely be a ways down the road yet, but that day will surely come. Whether or not the software will be there to make it worth the cost of entry is a question for a later date. But if Sony can’t boost its player base — not just console sales numbers but actual player base — they will be less likely as a company to release top-tier first party content. This is a vicious cycle that I hope will not be made manifest, but the makings of a deadly stew are certainly in the works.

Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! 

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
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