Walmart (And Everyone Else) Buckles Under PlayStation 5 Demand – Now What?
Walmart, and pretty much everyone else, failed to meet the demand for the PlayStation 5. Before I go into my spiel about why you don’t need to worry, let’s all just take a moment to grieve collectively. Yesterday, I too was sitting at my computer every three hours spamming the refresh button in the hopes of getting one. And like so many, I managed to get the coveted system into my cart but couldn’t check out. I’m here to tell you today though not to worry. Yes, you will get one, and probably sooner than you think.
This has happened before
Launch day for a console is always a hotly anticipated event. The gaming audience has grown by leaps and bounds since the days of the Nintendo 64. And with it, so too has the demand for new consoles on launch day. The PlayStation 4 saw similar problems, especially around their pre-order. As with the PS5, the PS4 sold out of pre-orders within minutes of the site going live. And as with the PS5, launch day was utter anarchy. The only difference was we didn’t have COVID-19, so the anarchy was in stores rather than the comfort of our own homes.
On that note. PARENTS: DO NOT GO INTO A STORE TO BUY YOUR KID A PS5. There is a deadly disease rampaging around the country. Maybe you’ve heard about it. Luckily, most retailers and developers took a responsible approach and chose not to sell the new consoles in stores on launch day. I’m sure that won’t hold true for long, so let me be the millionth person to tell you to please choose to shop online. Be safe!
Anyway, as with past console generations, the question now turns to “When will the system be back in stock?” While there aren’t many clear answers, we can look to history to get one. The answer is: soon.
Let me start by pointing out that I am entering the world of conjecture because I don’t have hard evidence of what I’m about to allege. That said, this is considered one of the dirty secrets of the gaming world. Artificial scarcity is the practice of purposely limiting your supply in order to create a frenzied demand. If everyone is able to get their console on launch day, then there is suddenly no motivation to get it as soon as possible. The consumer can take their time, and perhaps wait until the console has a game library that really sells them on it. That in and of itself is not a bad thing unless they’re convinced to try another console while waiting.
The gaming industry is rife with examples of this. Looking at you Nintendo. Now, of course, you’re asking me “Kali! Why would they do that?! That limits the number of consoles they can sell!” And you’re correct, it does. However, it’s widely known that most console makers operate on break-even numbers or on a loss for console hardware sales. The money is made in the games. If they sell 10 million consoles at a loss of 50 dollars apiece, that’s a $500,000,000 loss. Furthermore, there aren’t a ton of games out at this point as launch libraries are usually pretty small. Therefore, they can’t make up that loss quite as quickly.
However, if you spread your launch out over the course of a few months, while new games come out that help pad the loss on the console, it’s suddenly a lot more palatable. So, a long delay in between availability could tank consumer enthusiasm for the console and really hurt the brand. Therefore, they’ll continue to slow-drip consoles out over the next 8 weeks and you’ll have your PS5 before you know it.
Launch issues and library
Alright, enough speculation. Let’s return to the world of hard facts. The PS5 does have some known issues at launch, and we want to make sure to highlight them. The most egregious problem seems to be the ‘Rebuild Database’ error. It occurs when loading a PS4 game off of an external drive, and can cause the PS5 to error out and reboot before rebuilding the database. In extreme circumstances, it seems to have bricked a couple of consoles although those reports have not been confirmed.
Most consoles have some bugs at launch, which can be another reason it’s good not to get in at the first batch. Further releases will have fixes for these errors, and will likely result in a more stable console. This error can sometimes also occur when playing Spider-Man Remastered, though the specific trigger hasn’t been narrowed down just yet.
The launch library for the PS5 is pretty standard for a new console, which is to say, not that impressive. It’s got Bugsnax, Demon’s Souls, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, as well as some cross-platform titles like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Borderlands 3. It’s plenty to hold you over, but probably nothing that sells the console by itself.
So what do I do if I want a PS5!?
If you absolutely have to have it now, your only options are stealing it or going to eBay. Don’t do either of those things. You’re either a terrible person or you’re going to over-pay to support a terrible industry of scalping, or both. Go to your tech website of choice, be it Amazon, Best Buy, Gamestop, Walmart, Target, or whoever, and just check back once a day. You can keep the browser open and just hit refresh once a day. By the time we’re getting into December, you’ll have been able to buy your PS5.
Here’s what NOT to do:
– Do NOT pay 1000 dollars for a PS5 on eBay. Not only are you opening yourself up to getting scammed, but supporting the very reason you couldn’t buy one at launch.
– Do NOT send death threats to Sony, retailers, or game developers. Yes, people do this. Yes, it happens all the time. And no, it’s not at all acceptable. STOP IT.
– Do NOT lose sleep over this. Even if this article proves wrong, and the PS5 doesn’t become available until early 2021, it’s not the end of the world. Most games coming out for PS5 are still playable on PS4, and that will remain the case for the next few years. I’m guessing we won’t start seeing true PS5 exclusives until 2023.
And that’s the long and short of what’s going on everyone! If you’re like me, you’ll still be obsessing over trying to get a PlayStation 5 from Walmart for the next month. But I talk about video games for a living, do you really want to be like me? Do I seem like a well-adjusted individual? Absolutely not. Enjoy the holiday season, stay indoors, and be safe!
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