Next Generation Delayed: PlayStation 5’s Agonizing Stock Shortages

Next Generation Delayed: PlayStation 5’s Agonizing Stock Shortages

Next Generation Delayed: PlayStation 5’s Agonizing Stock Shortages

Posted by Chanel Ferguson

13 Jan, 2021


Sony celebrated record-breaking sales of the PlayStation 5 at the end of 2020, selling over 3.4 million units in the weeks following the console’s November 2020 launch. But these millions of souls aren’t the only ones who wanted a PlayStation 5. They were just fortunate enough to get one. Pre-orders from the most dedicated fans seemed to be the most certain way to score Sony’s next-generation gaming console. Ever since then, the PlayStation 5 has been notoriously difficult to obtain.

Drip Drops of Stock and Scalpers

The chances of getting a PlayStation 5 in the weeks and months since the November 2020 release have been bleak. The short story is that supply hasn’t been able to keep up with demand. Online retailers like Best Buy, GameStop, GAME UK, Walmart, Target, and Sony’s own PlayStation Direct have sold mountains of stock over the months. Sometimes retailers make timely announcements for customers to expect stock at certain hours. Most of the time, the drops happen randomly, with maybe an hour or two of advance warning, if at all. However the drops happen, outside of the official PlayStation Direct online store, the process is always the same. 

Customers constantly refresh the PS5’s product page, waiting to see the magical “Add to Cart” button light up. Sometimes the sites crash due to excess traffic and server overload, leading to more frantic refreshing. Then there’s a chance customers can add the PS5 to their cart and proceed to checkout. 

For PlayStation Direct customers, Sony opens a queue beforehand. Sitting in this queue only gives people a chance, again, to redirect to the official store, where they can select their PS5, games, and accessories before proceeding to their final purchase. But every single time, within minutes—and sometimes seconds—the PS5s sell out. On the PlayStation Direct store, the PS5s can even sell out while people are sitting in the queue, meaning they weren’t randomly chosen to proceed to the online store. The process is demoralizing, leaving customers feeling crushed and frustrated.

With two versions out in the wild—the cheaper, disc-less digital edition and the more expensive standard edition with a traditional disc drive—things get even more complicated. Hopeful customers aren’t always able to secure the version they want, let alone get their hands on a PS5 in the first place. 

Resellers have had a field day with the stock shortages, taking advantage of peoples’ desperation to get their hands on a PS5—any PS5. A quick online search reveals several marked-up prices on digital platforms like eBay and StockX, each listing the PS5 for hundreds of dollars above retail. While tempting for those who can afford it, the risks are abundant. Some customers have warned about these scalpers and resellers taking their money and running, refusing to ship the product. The only option, it seems, is to hope and pray to get lucky with an official retailer despite the unpredictability of restocks.

Social Media PS5 Restock Accounts

Customers don’t have to feel defeated and alone in their quest to score a PS5. Social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram have “restock accounts” run by well-connected users who make announcements about when official PS5 stocks will drop. Well-known users such as @Wario64 are reliable when it comes to gaming deals and sales online. Several other accounts have surfaced for the PS5 alone, such as @PS5_Restock, @PS5StockUpdates and @spieltimes. These social media accounts often have thousands of followers and are run by people not associated with Sony.

The owners of these accounts do their best to blast out messages about these stock announcements. Official retailer drops, rumors about possible drops in the future and other such messages fill their timelines. The sole purpose of these restock accounts is to ensure their followers buy a PS5 no matter how many times they have to keep trying. 

It’s common for followers to leave comments about their success stories, or lack of success in obtaining a PS5, either celebrating or commiserating together. This sense of community is comforting, if nothing else. It can be oddly reassuring to know that tons of other people are in the same situation. But it’s also common to see comments from people who have given up, seeing no point in continuing with this seemingly unending quest. Due to the pandemic, the race for PS5s was understandable early on. People expected it would be over by now. As the race continues with no end in sight, potential customers may decide to stop bothering. Being on time for a PlayStation Direct drop, sitting in a queue, and then having the PS5 run out of stock within minutes or seconds over and over again is neither fun nor productive. After a certain point, it isn’t worth the energy.

What’s the Point?

Owning the latest console is neither possible nor feasible right now for many people. Still, the allure of a PS5 lingers, with exciting exclusives like the Demon’s Souls remake and upcoming titles in the God of War and Horizon franchises. PlayStation 5’s catalog of backward-compatible PlayStation 4 games is also enticing, along with upgraded versions of PS4 games that will run smoother on the PS5. Players also look forward to the promise of quicker load times on the PS5, an updated UI and the innovative haptic feedback from the DualSense controllers. 

Dedicated customers will continue playing the restock game for as long as it takes. Until these stock issues disappear, and anyone who can afford a PS5 can get one, this cycle will keep going. The PlayStation 5’s attractive features can inspire the necessary dedication in just about anyone, but more defeated customers will have to settle for patience, keeping their PS4s warm and in use instead. There’s no telling how long it’ll take for the PS5’s stock to balance out with demand. The most unlucky people out there have no choice but to wait for things to improve—eventually.


About Author

Chanel Ferguson

Chanel Ferguson is a novelist who loves gaming. She grew up with role-playing games such as Final Fantasy and Shin Megami Tensei. While pursuing an undergraduate degree in philosophy, she spent her free time writing fiction novels, crafting unique worlds and characters inspired by video games.

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