It began with pre-ordering. Even if you did try to pre-order a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S ahead of their respective launch, it proved to be a very challenging task.
Not only did you have to compete with your fellow gamer, but you also had to compete with greedy resellers who were out to acquire the consoles to sell on for a profit at the desperate gamer’s expense.
The surge in pre-order attempts alone caused many retail websites to crash. If you were lucky enough to pre-order a next-gen console, there was also the chance that the retailer might cancel your order as many orders were unable to be fulfilled.
Those who were unable to place pre-orders, whether due to website traffic or finances, hoped that they might be able to acquire a next-gen console soon after release.
Sadly however this proved not to be the case for many. Demand was (and is) still incredibly high. Releasing just a month before Christmas, boisterous parents began to scratch and claw to ensure that their child would get 2020’s most in-demand Xmas gift, no matter the financial cost.
We’d not only see independent resellers boasting about snatching huge batches of PS5s and Xbox Series X consoles across social media, but companies that specialise in acquiring highly sought after goods were rubbing it in the faces of disgruntled gamers, claiming to have bought thousands of consoles to resell at huge profit.
At this point I was already resigned to not getting a PS5 until after Christmas, but I had hoped that by the time my birthday arrived in February, stock issues would have at least settled. I’ve had no such luck.
Heading into the New Year there were constant stories of resellers using automated bots to acquire new-gen consoles in seconds. They were not only able to jump online queues but were able to make multiple purchases almost in an instant due to obtaining checkout URLs.
Resellers and automated bots have become such an issue that UK politicians have been trying to put a ban on their shenanigans. To this day, the use of automated bots is still continuing on months later, with little sign of it ending in the immediate future.
To be fair to both Microsoft and Sony, the new-gen consoles did launch in the middle of a global pandemic. With the consoles being manufactured in China, it was always going to cause issues when producing stock.
However now that months have passed, you would hope that plans have been put in place and consoles would have become easier to acquire for the average gamer. While things have gotten a little better, it’s still far from easy to get your hands on a PS5 or Xbox Series X.
While the pandemic can be seen as a big stumbling block, it baffles me that stock issues are barely any better than when the consoles launched.
When Sony and Microsoft do have stock to issue to retailers, it only ever seems to be in small quantities. So what results is small batches of new-gen consoles spread across thousands of retailers worldwide, resulting in some big retailers only receiving a few hundred units at best.
So let’s say that a retailer receives 300 consoles, you’re going to have thousands of customers trying to nab a console, and many of them will likely be bots. If they’re in the queue, you’ve got no chance.
In my opinion, Sony and Microsoft would have been better off mass-producing consoles, holding onto them until they have obscene quantities and then release them to retailers. If several leading retailers had thousands of PS5 consoles in stock at once, it would be so much easier for the average gamer to pick one up.
Sure this would mean that Sony and Microsoft would be holding onto consoles for months before releasing them, but considering that we’ve been waiting months already, it wouldn’t have made a difference to us.
There are signs of improvements as more retailers seem to be getting stock now and again, but as they’re only receiving such small quantities, they’re gone within seconds.
What Can Gamers Do?
So now that we’ve spoken about the retailer issue, what can we do as the average gamer? I know it’s frustrating not being able to acquire a PS5 or Xbox Series X, but the best thing we can do is not fill the pockets of the greedy resellers.
If we avoided the temptation to spend over the RRP, resellers would be sitting on a pile of consoles that they cannot sell, unless they drastically dropped their unreasonable prices.
Simply put, if we stopped feeding the reseller, they would lose all incentive to do what they do. Losing their incentive would mean that consoles would be easier to acquire at the regular RRP from retailers.
If this happened, the only people that wouldn’t benefit would be the resellers. Heck, even those desperate enough to pay triple the retail value would be able to buy a new-gen console at the regular RRP from a retailer with a little patience.
From a personal point of view, this whole issue hasn’t been doing my mental wellbeing any good either and I would imagine that I’m not alone. For those that have addictive tendencies and love gaming that much, trying to get hold of a PS5 can be mentally exhausting.
For many, the reality is constantly checking retailers, having multiple stock alerts from various Twitter accounts, waking up in the early hours to check if those rumours of stock dropping were true, and even having livestream videos running that trigger a loud siren when stock apparently becomes available.
There have been various times when I’ve been on a retail website the split second stock goes live. Mutiple times I’ve added a PS5 to my basket and waited in an online queue for over an hour, only to find out that I’ve been booted to the home screen with an empty basket. It’s incredibly frustrating to say the least.
As time goes on, the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S stock issue will no doubt be resolved, but it’s looking like the problem will continue deep into 2021.
Hopefully we’ll start to see things getting better, and we can all soon buy a PS5 and Xbox Series X at the regular RRP! What a wonderful thing that would be.
Featured Image Credit: Sony/Microsoft