Walmart and EB Games announced the release of their PlayStation 5 inventory for December 4, 2020 @ 11am ET / 8am PT.
Everyone was prepared. Credit cards were ready.
…and then everything came crashing down.
Some made it through to the other side with smiles and a dent in their credit cards, but chances are you’re disappointed, frustrated, and wondering why this is still a problem in 2020?
These answers won’t make you happy, but hopefully they will explain why this issue persists.
A global pandemic ruins the party
Well, the first obvious answer is that it’s 2020 and we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. As a result, retailers and manufacturers are encouraging all prospective buyers to visit online stores. In a pandemic-free timeline, consumers would have been able to buy consoles across online and retail stores which would have alleviated some online stress.
Why are the websites dying?
The reason why websites are buckling under the tremendous weight of demand is money and the annoying reality that it is finite. From a retailer’s perspective, it is cost prohibitive to beef up server and network capacity for an event that occurs once every 6 – 7 years.
Retailers are trying to work within their budgets though. They’re putting in queues, and waiting rooms, but it’s obviously not perfect. Retailers certainly want to sell you things, and not have to endure being ratio-ed.
Wondering why Apple and the like don’t buckle as badly? They have annual launches with predictable data. They’ve had plenty of practice to wrestle with these launch spikes.
Damn bots and scalpers!
This is one area that I believe all retailers should be counteracting. Why isn’t there a built-in CAPTCHA is a head scratcher. If anyone has any insight to this, I would love to know. (Something tells me the reasoning comes down to money though.)
Retailers like Walmart have stressed they’re restricting purchases to 1 per household, but it doesn’t fill consumers with confidence.
Bundles suck! Why do they keep bundling them?
To make it worthwhile for the retailer. The profit margin for console hardware is small, so they want make this headache (it is a headache!) worthwhile.
At least they’re no longer bundling with third party controllers these days.
Why didn’t Sony make more?
Sony saw increased demand for the console and boosted supply, but despite their best efforts, they are still selling out.
One could argue that they should have built up even more inventory before launching, but it’s a numbers game. Sitting on inventory doesn’t pay the bills, so Sony needs to recoup their investment as soon as possible.
Nobody Wants This
Nobody wants this situation to happen:
- Not you
- Not the poor Walmart communications team manning the Twitter account
- Not the IT support staff scrambling to recover systems
- Not Sony
- And certainly not me. (This is Game Deals Canada after all)
Logistics is tough in the best of times, so you can imagine how much tougher it is to pull this off while keeping everyone safe during this pandemic. So while it is incredibly frustrating to have something slip through your virtual shopping cart into nothing, please be cool about this situation.
We all want happiness.