Two of the most sought-after gifts of the Christmas season went on sale last month. 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.
When Black Friday and Cyber Monday came and went, the consoles remained hard to find. But there could be hope for vacation shoppers: 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. 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.
In the meantime, the Xbox Series X | S, which was released on November 20th, touted 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, according to ScreenRant, included controllers not charging properly, games uninstalled without notice, and console crashes.
The combination of expensive devices and limited availability is frustrating for consumers who have used 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 debuted 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. The live stream on the Twitch channel shows the results of pinging 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’s 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 make sure our customers have access to these items,” a spokeswoman said in an email .
In a statement, Microsoft game director 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 to encourage you to join yours report local retailers directly for more details on availability in your market, “said Hamren.
Gambling has only gained popularity since the coronavirus pandemic crippled 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, according to NPD Group, up 24% from the same period last year.
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 many games available at launch, and they could also have glitches that will eventually be fixed by their manufacturers.
“Wait a year and it’ll be a year worth of games,” he said. “Maybe now you need your money for better things.”