If you have been trying to buy one of the new PlayStation 5 video game consoles and weren’t able to get one of the pre-orders, which were in limited supply, or weren’t able to find one online or in a store when they were released on November 12th, you are probably like most people, still looking and hoping to find something.
The availability of the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles is no better. Much like the PlayStation 5, if you weren’t able to preorder one of the new Xbox consoles, odds are you didn’t get one on its official November 10th release date either, and you too are wondering where and when you might be able to find one of these new consoles.
So what happened to make these new consoles so hard to come by?
Why Are PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S Consoles So Hard to Find?
Neither Sony nor Microsoft planned on developing new consoles and not being able to come anywhere close to meeting demand once they were released.
So what happened?
There really isn’t just one thing that conspired to make these consoles be in such short supply. Instead, it was more like a perfect storm of several things that happened at once.
Demand for New PlayStation and Xbox Consoles
First of all, the demand for these consoles is through the roof. But the question is why?
Hey, These Are New Consoles
Both Microsoft and Sony last released new versions of their popular consoles in 2013. So the anticipation for this next generation of consoles has been building for several years.
Back in 2013 when the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were first released they were flying off the shelves then too. So we really shouldn’t be surprised that there are a lot of people who are clamoring to buy one of the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X or Series S consoles now.
In fact, we have known for a long time that these consoles were going to be released in 2020. There are actually a large number of people who have been planning on buying one of these new consoles for over a year now.
So while everyone expected these new consoles to be popular the frenzied demand can’t just be attributed to new versions of the consoles being released. This time around there are a few extra factors fueling the increased demand.
People Are Spending A Lot More Time At Home
When Covid-19 hit in early 2020 both kids and adults started spending a lot more time at home. After a few weeks, we all realized that you can only binge so many movies and television shows. So we all started looking for ways to spend our time without being bored. For many people video games became an obvious choice.
Not only are video games a fun way that a lot of people like to spend their time, but thanks to subscription services like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, gaming on the PlayStation and Xbox consoles has a huge social component to it. With so many games being played online many people use video games as a way to play with and talk to friends and family members who are outside of their homes.
The need to find new ways to safely connect with others during Covid-19 has only increased the popularity of gaming and the demand for new video game consoles.
Possible Covid-19 Related Production and Shipping Delays
Not only did Covid-19 raise the interest and demand in video games, but it also impacted production and shipping, meaning there are a lot fewer consoles, accessories, and games on store shelves or at online retailers.
Since Covid-19 helped to raise the interest and demand in video games, we also have to wonder if it negatively impacted the production and shipping of new consoles, just as it has done to so many other businesses and industries in 2020. While we haven’t seen Sony or Microsoft make any statements about their production efforts being negatively affected by the Coronavirus we have to wonder if it somehow was because that would help explain the woeful job they did to satisfy the demand for new consoles and accessories.
While any Covid related manufacturing problems may have made these consoles more scarce, and the hype that always surrounds new console releases along with the increased interest in video games from people being cooped up at home during the Covid-19 crisis helped to fuel demand, they don’t tell the whole story of why these consoles are so hard to find.
Enter The Bots
Right now you might be saying to yourself, “Bots? What in the world do robots have to do with this!” When i say “bots” I am referring to automated programs that can go online to buy products much faster than a human can. You might hear these programs referred to as “scalper bots” or “grinch bots”. No matter what you call them they have been a real problem.
As people began to suspect that the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles might be in short supply it became clear that if you could get your hands on these consoles you could make a lot of money reselling them at a much higher price. So some people who have the necessary tech skills seized upon this set of circumstances as a business opportunity (in case you were wondering this is legal in most places) and created bots that were targeting these new video game systems.
Many retailers try to stop bots from buying up all of the high demand products through their websites, but it is hard to stop them all because the bots keep changing. With something that is in such limited supply as the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X & S, it didn’t take long before the retailers were sold out.
Here is a video from Reuters that talks about how bots have been buying up PlayStation 5 consoles:
So instead of making it into consumers’ hands, all of the consoles that were bought with the help of these bots did very little to help lower demand.
Where Can You Find PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X or S Consoles to Buy in 2020?
Just because they are in short supply you might still be able to find one sooner than you think, but you need to be persistent.
Brick and Mortar Retailers
Don’t give up on your local brick and mortar retailers. Whether you are driving past your local video game store or going to your local Target or Walmart, make a point of swinging by their video game department several times per week.
The fact of the matter is that often these stores don’t know if, when, or how many consoles they will be getting. So you need to be there at the right time. Checking these stores on a regular basis will increase your chances of being there when one of these shipments do come in.
Consider Looking Farther Away From Home
With each store only getting a handful of consoles with each delivery, if they are getting any consoles delivered at all, it doesn’t take long (sometimes only a matter of minutes) before they are sold out. This is especially true if you live in a larger city.
One strategy that some people have successfully used is to get in your car and drive and try your luck finding one of these new video game systems in a small town. The idea is that the small number of consoles being sent to each store take longer to sell out in smaller towns.
Here is one that many of you are probably already doing. Check the websites of your favorite online retailers. Much like the brick and mortar stores you often won’t know or be able to predict, when they will get more video game systems back in stock, but if you make a plan of checking a few times per day you will have a better chance of seeing it when the consoles are back in stock.
There are two places you can go that will increase your chances of seeing consoles available for sale.
Amazon will not only sell new consoles at their suggested retail price, but you will sometimes find 3rd parties selling both new and used PlayStation 5 as well Xbox Series X and Series S consoles there as well.
Note: Be careful if you purchase one of these consoles that are being resold online by 3rd parties. Not only could you be paying more money, but the warranty may not be what you expect. So protect yourself and pay attention to the details.
On eBay, you will have a better chance of finding people reselling consoles, even new ones. While you might have a better chance of finding a console on eBay you should be prepared to pay significantly more than the suggested retail price. There are many sellers using the eBay platform that understand that they have an item that is in very high demand and are trying to maximize the amount of profit they can make from each console they have to sell.
Which Version of New PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X & S Should You Buy?
Microsoft and Sony have both released two versions of their new next-generation video game consoles. Most people are already aware of this, but in case you aren’t you need to know the differences between these consoles before you buy.
Xbox Series X|S
Microsoft has released two versions of its new console. There is the higher-end Xbox Series X, which is what the majority of people will be interested in, and the more affordable all digital Xbox Series S. When compared to the Series S, the Series X is more powerful, has a larger SSD drive (1TB vs. 512GB), and has an optical drive.
If you want to learn more about the differences between these two consoles you can check out our articles that review everything you need to know about both the Xbox Series X as well as the Xbox Series S.
Sony released the PlayStation 5 and the lower-priced PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. While the Digital Edition doesn’t have an optical drive, it does share the rest of the features and specs that are found on the more traditional PlayStation 5 console.
You can learn more about the differences between the PS5 and the PS5 All Digital Edition in our breakdown of the PlayStation 5 consoles.
What Else Can You Do?
If you wait a few more months before buying a new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X or Series S console and wait for the supply to catch up to the demand so you can buy a console from a retailer at the regular price rather than having to buy the console from someone who is trying to resell it to you for a huge profit.
The other option is to buy a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One console. If you or the person you are shopping for currently doesn’t have a console the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles are both fine choices. Not only are both consoles still being made, but game manufacturers are still selling games for these systems and should continue to do so for some time, just as they did with the previous generations of game consoles.
We have given you some ideas on how to find a new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X|S before the end of the year, but remember that if you can’t find a retailer with these consoles you have three options. First, you could wait a few months until these video game systems will be in better supply. Second, you could opt for a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. Finally, if you really need to get a console before the end of the year you could check places like eBay or Amazon where you can look for people reselling new and used consoles, albeit at increased prices.
Last update on 2021-05-10 at 12:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API