Sony ended its presentation today with the long-awaited price and release date for the PS5 — but stopped short of telling gamers when and where to buy one, until a tweet seemed to make things clearer: pre-orders would begin tomorrow on September 17th. Or so it seemed for an hour or two. Now, it’s become an utter mess.
Perhaps eager to capitalize on the demand, retailers quickly turned the pre-order situation into a free-for-all, opening the floodgates a day early and allowing the quickest and savviest buyers to swoop in. Some called or walked into their local GameStop to secure a pre-order a day early, or seemingly lucked out with one of Walmart’s listings for the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition. Walmart even gleefully tweeted that it was pushing the console out ahead of schedule:
Make you wait to get the new #PlayStation5? Nah, that’s not like us. Go on, preorder it NOW!
— Walmart (@Walmart) September 16, 2020
Soon, GameStop issued a press release advertising availability of the PS5 online, even though at the time, it didn’t actually have a product page where you could buy one. Now, you can find product pages at Target (PS5, PS5 Digital) and Best Buy (PS5, PS5 Digital) too. GameStop’s product listings (PS5, PS5 Digital) also appear to be up — but hilariously, the site appears to have triggered some DDoS protection and was initially blocked for many people (including us):
And good luck actually getting one, even if you get through to one of these store: not only are these listings flickering in and out of stock and erroring out of adding items to your cart, we’ve also had them ripped out of our cart in the middle of a transaction. Target says it’s already completely out of pre-orders (see image below), and we’re also hearing that Walmart is already canceling some successful pre-orders as well. In more ways than one, it reminds us of the SNES Classic launch fiasco.
It seems like you not only need be on the dot, but also have refresh your page a few times to get one in your cart, and be mighty quick about typing in your payment info because you can still lose the pre-order as you check out. Also, the Best Buy cart doesn’t seem to allow us to even begin check-out right now.
And even if you manage to get one, there’s no guarantee it will arrive on launch day. Our attempt at Target initially showed we might “get it from Fri, Nov 13 – Wed, Nov 18,” before telling us we couldn’t get one at all:
If you are ordering at GameStop, you may also have to go in-person to pre-purchase the console. The minimum down payment for the PS5 is $50 at the retailer. But GameStop notes that there are additional ways to pay for the system, including a flexible “rent-to-own” payment system that will allow gamers to pay off products between 30 days to one year.
Sony had warned that it might be challenging to pre-purchase a PS5 due to high demand and low supply, but Sony also promised it would give gamers “plenty of advance notice” about when pre-orders would begin:
When will #ps5 pre-orders start? PlayStation worldwide marketing head Eric Lempel says they will give gamers plenty of advance notice. #SummerGameFest pic.twitter.com/ga08j8IvWD
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) July 17, 2020
What happened to that? And what, exactly, was the point of that whole invite-only pre-order registration form that Sony launched on August 26th?
Sony CEO Jim Ryan claimed that more PS5 units will be available than PS4s were when they initially launched in 2013, and also denied a recent report from Bloomberg that stated Sony had been forced to cut back PS5 production by 4 million units. It’s not yet clear how many PS5s will actually be available, but it’s possible more shipments will appear ahead of launch. Walmart reportedly said it’ll have more stock on September 22nd, while Target’s product page suggests you “check back on release date.”