Two of the most sought-after gifts of the Christmas season went on sale in November. Microsoft brought its Xbox Series X | S video game consoles and Sony introduced rival PlayStation 5. The only problem: actually finding one of the $ 499 devices in stock.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday came and went with a few reorders, but the consoles are still hard to find. There might be hope for vacation shoppers, however: Sony swore in a tweet that more inventory would arrive at retailers before the end of the year.
Still, expect the consoles to remain a hot item and difficult to find. The demand for the PlayStation 5, which went on sale on November 12th, was so high that the Walmart website slowed down and some buyers saw error messages. When Walmart refilled the devices on November 25th, the PlayStation 5 was sold out within minutes.
Meanwhile the Xbox Series X | S, which was released on November 20th announced by Microsoft as “the biggest launch in Xbox history”.
While some consumers were enraged at their inability to purchase the consoles, resellers were busy listing the new games on eBay, where resale prices went as high as $ 32,000 for a new PlayStation 5 and as high as $ 8,000 for a new Xbox Series X The consoles available for resale range from $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 – still not a bad profit for people quick enough to snag one.
Whether consumers would pay more than 60 times the retail price for a PlayStation 5 remains to be seen. However, the exorbitant resale prices signal the intersection of some trends from the pandemic: the increasing popularity of games as well as the shift to online retailing during the crisis.
“A new version of the console is always exciting – it only happens every five to seven years,” noted Jordan Minor, a software and a game analyst at PCMag. But he added, “Your rollout has been quite a mess, even though it is a mess when a new console starts up.”
Some consumers fortunate enough to secure a console have reported problems with the devices, which is not uncommon with a new product launch, technology experts say.
PlayStation issues included controllers not charging properly, games uninstalling without notice, and console crashes. according to to ScreenRant.
The combination of expensive devices and limited availability is frustrating for consumers who have chosen social media to express their frustrations. In addition, there were few Black Friday video game console deals, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter found in a research report that said the deals available were “overwhelming.”
Xbox fans may have to wait longer to get their hands on a new console than PlayStation fans. Pachter notes that Microsoft won’t expect demand until the second quarter of 2021.
Fight against bots
A concern for consumers has been the reliance on online sales for both products. The PlayStation 5 was released exclusively through online retail websites such as Walmart.com and BestBuy.comand make purchases in milliseconds ahead of actual human consumers, Jason Kent told CBS MoneyWatch.
“They basically look at any high-demand item and they look at how you buy them and then they develop a bot to do it,” Kent said. “Then they go to their ‘market’ and say, ‘I have a bot that will buy PS5s – it’s $ 300 if you want to buy [the bot]. ‘”
There are even bots designed to give consumers an edge over the inventory bots, with a tracking restock for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles. His Twitch channel Live broadcast shows the results of pinging the bot at retailers – including Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. However, on Tuesday, the bot showed a steady stream of red “OUT OF STOCK” messages.
Disappointed gamers blamed both retailers and manufacturers for the new console shortage.
“It’s 2020 @ Walmart“You should have had 1 per household for the Xbox release,” one consumer said on Twitter. “Noooo buy how many you want. What a joke. 2020 and you retailers still can’t figure out how to stop bots and scammers.”
Walmart said it will be replenishing and releasing more inventory over the holidays. “It is not uncommon for bot activity to occur, especially on hot items like the PS5. Our teams are working hard to prevent this from happening and to ensure that our customers have access to these items,” a spokeswoman said in an email .
In one ExplanationMicrosoft’s game manager Liz Hamren admitted that some consumers were disappointed.
“We know that not everyone could get an Xbox Series X | S right away, and we work tirelessly with our partners around the world to bring as many new consoles as possible over time and encourage you to join yours report local retailers directly for more details on availability in your market, “said Hamren.
Gambling has only grown in popularity since the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the economy in March. With consumers stuck at home, many have turned to gaming to pass the hours.
Consumers spent $ 11.2 billion on video games between July and September, up 24% from the same period last year. according to to the NPD Group.
PCMag’s Minor offers a little consolation for empty handed buyers: don’t fret about missing out on the same day release. First, the new consoles don’t have a lot of games available at launch, and they could also have glitches that their manufacturers will eventually fix.
“Wait a year and it’ll be a year worth of games,” he said. “Maybe now you need your money for better things.”