Get Used To This PS5 Launch Day Madness

Get Used To This PS5 Launch Day Madness
Image: Sony

Despite manufacturing more consoles for Play Station 5’s launch than the previous generation, getting a PS5 in Australia today was always going to be the lottery from hell.

A lot of blame has been laid at Sony’s feet for not making enough supply available, but to be clear, I genuinely don’t think there is a whole lot the company could have done. 2020 has been a rolling preview of just how difficult it’s been to get any new piece of technology, especially luxury recreational gadgets like a PS5. Or an Xbox Series X. Or a PC graphics card.

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Image: Nvidia

And it’s not just because there was pent up demand from everyone who missed out during the pre-order phase for PS5 or Xbox Series X. The supply issue has been on the cards all year, practically since February when the coronavirus ground the global manufacturing and logistics chain to a halt.

Remember when copies of Ring Fit Adventure were a few hundred dollars more expensive thanks to scalpers, half a year after the game’s release? That wasn’t that long ago. Supplies of the Nintendo Switch slowed — the Animal Crossing Switch console was delayed in some territories because Nintendo simply couldn’t produce enough.

That wasn’t helped by the creation of Bird Bot, an automated bot that was built by a 16-year-old. And it’s not like resale/scalper bots are new — they’ve been a thorn in the side of the sneaker world for ages. And thanks to the pandemic, many of those communities (or cooking groups, as they’re sometimes called) turned their eyes to tech and video games.

The global pandemic has also pushed a lot of people into a corner, or made them realise how easy it is to take advantage of the scarcity of tech. We already saw how ridiculous things got with Nvidia’s RTX cards, and AMD is already facing a similar issue with demand around its new Ryzen processors.

Still, some websites and retailers really could have done a lot better. Most stores gave everyone advance notice of when their online PS5 pre-orders — which was a directive from Sony, and a very practical COVID-safe one at that — would go live.

That was better than some stores, which didn’t announce when their pre-orders would drop at all. Amazon Australia sent out automated emails late last night, with the floodgates opening early Thursday morning unannounced. And when I mean unannounced, I mean unannounced to the point of not sending out email or push notifications via their mobile app, catching everyone by surprise.

Annoying for customers, but at least regular people were able to actually buy consoles at the end of the day. Other websites didn’t even get that far. The Gamesmen — which was always going to have a rough day given they’re an independent retailer and nowhere near the size of Amazon — crashed so often that they ended up posting a lead capture form instead.

Big W pulled their pre-orders entirely, redistributing the load onto everyone else. Nobody knows what’s happened with Target yet; listings are live for the PS5 remote and DualSense controller, but not the consoles themselves. Kogan’s stock still hasn’t materialised. EB Games didn’t participate at all, but they’d already allocated first, second and third waves of consoles back in September.

So that meant even places like JB Hi-Fi — which is one of the biggest websites in Australia, along with being one of the biggest retailers — couldn’t handle the load. The retailer said their site was “experiencing technical issues” but hasn’t provided an update since lunch time.

And if that wasn’t bad enough? Have a look at Gumtree.

Image: Gumtree

Yup, you guessed it. That’s just a heap of crappy smart phone photos of retail PS5 boxes. Some of them are especially grating, like the “PRICE REDUCED” digital console for $1150. That’s the Digital Edition console that’s selling for $599 locally. Some of the full-size consoles? $1300, $1400 and more. (One listing even has both the Xbox Series X and PS5 for $3000, along with an extra controller and a couple of games.)

And to be fair, there’s really nothing that can be done here. This is completely and entirely legal, and the only way to combat it is on the supply side. But Sony can’t just create extra consoles out of thin air. It’s months and sometimes a year or more of preparation and negotiation. Sony doesn’t own the silicon foundries, so they also have to compete against companies like Apple, other mobile phone manufacturers, firms like Nvidia and AMD — who use TSMC’s 7nm silicon wafers not just for consoles, but their own GPUs and CPUs. Even Intel is using external foundries these days, thanks to all the problems they’ve had with their own process.

Now add COVID and its effect on deliveries. Add the fact that lockdowns have caused people to spend months searching for joys to tide them over — like a Switch or a PS4. Some of those people missed out, so naturally they were just as eager for a PS5 or Xbox Series X as everyone else, and demand went through the roof. Even PC components that were supposed to be tailing off earlier this year ended up having a massive surge in demand. People doubled down on PCs and home office equipment, and if you’re going to write the cost of upgrading your gear off on tax anyway, why not get a nicer GPU or monitor?

But it’s not just an Australian thing. You can’t unring the bell of bots and cooking groups; this is just going to be a modern way of life for consumer tech. There is no human, physical way to counter the speed and efficiency of these creations, or the groups that coalesce around them.

The only real way to combat it is on the manufacturing side, by creating such an enormous mass of supply that reselling something like a PS5 or Xbox Series X loses all its allure. But the impact of 2020 would have never allowed that. So even if sites like The Gamesmen weren’t utterly bombarded into submission, or national retailers like Big W didn’t have sudden dramas that forced them to pull pre-orders at the last minute, there still wouldn’t have been enough supply.

This, sadly, is just the way things are going to be.


  • First off – your assertion that nothing can be done about scalpers is definitely wrong. Just DO NOT BUY OFF SCALPERS…. and they will go away. Secondly, we as a community COULD do something by putting pressure on governments to prohibit re-selling above RRP. Is it against ‘fair trade’ – yep. Does any one lose other than the scalpers – nope. No one is against someone on-selling something they don’t need -but what value to society does a scalper provide? Yes, you can argue that they allow a second chance to people prepared to pay more… however, that’s an argument that might work IF the scalpers weren’t actually preventing people purchasing hardware in the first place. So if I had someone on the inside of all the major retailers that could buy EVERY CONSOLE even before it even hit retailers… would that be illegal? However a bot that is able to spam hit a website to sweep up all but scraps is not illegal? Especially if they then sell it at an elevated price? Free market – no – it’s no longer a free market when people are competing against automated bots. For my money – we need to seriously re-think this release strategy. I’d much prefer to be in a queue and know that I will get one at X, rather than having to dance for my supper (and then be giving a slap-around-the-chops for my effort). Yummmmm… post-pre-order-slap-in-the-chops. My favourite.

    • Scalpers are basically our society failing at the prisoner’s dilemma.
      Which we do ALL THE TIME. In the case of climate change, especially, it’s going to cost us dearly.

  • I think what annoys me the most, is certain stores such as Big W did nothing to try to mitigate this issue. They allowed, for example, a maximum of 2 consoles per purchase. WHY would they allow 2? This doesn’t mean it would alleviate the issue entirely, but it sure as hell would at least give others more of a chance against the scalper scum of society to get a console.

    Personally, like others have said, I hope Sony burns the candle at both ends to flood retail by early next year, so these douches have to take a loss on their consoles, so they lose bigtime. I can wait, I don’t have a fear of missing out, I have my PC and most of the games I want, plus Cyberpunk will suit me fine over my teacher holiday period this xmas.

    But to shops like Big W who allowed multiple sales, and shops like JB who fucked up royally today, you’d honestly think they’d know better. But it truly does prove they just don’t give a flying f*ck about their customers.

    • And the ridiculous thing is that their lack of preparation is like ” what… surge buying… bots… I would never have guessed that was possible”. Time and time again, it’s like they just don’t want to bother… because as far as they are concerned… a $ is a $ and they couldn’t give a FF (well put) who pays them. Customers… an unnecessary annoyance.

  • I logged in online to JB Hi-fi today to try and secure myself a PS5…..and due to load on the site, the address search etc kept screwing up and by the time it settled down, I lost my place in the queue because the page auto refreshed and said there were no more units available…even though I logged in perfectly on-time to get one of the new round. I’m really disappointed. Nothing like seeing you successfully secured a purchase only to then see it slip through your fingers through no fault of your own. *Sigh*

  • I fluked one from Amazon this morning…I think. Until one arrives, I am just not too sure to be honest.
    Like Alex mentioned, there was zero notice, I was just having a quick look and there was the add to cart button…so I did.
    I signed up for notifications for the original pre-sale and have still not heard from Sony or Amazon letting me know that they’re available.
    Except today.
    I purchased it at 8.05am and was notified at 9.42am that there was stock available when I know they were all gone by 8.10am.
    All parts, players of the system need to share responsibility on this issue and I know that CV19 has played a massive part of the problem this year, but this isn’t just a 2020 issue.
    It’s the same with those Aldi sales where people come to blows to get as many as they can to resell online.
    I don’t have the answers, but I think all industries need to start looking at this issue…from Concerts to electronic goods, we need a solution to this whole mess or this is the new norm.

    • The concerts mention is interesting as when you buy tickets to a performance the items in your cart are allocated to you. (e.g. Tickets C15 & C16 are held for 15 minutes until you make your purchase. Two customers can’t buy the same ticket.) Why can’t electronic retailers have the same system where they are told they will have 2000 PlayStation 5’s available, then each item is given a unique number and once someone puts it in their cart, it is theirs until they make the purchase/cancel/time runs out.

    • Huh. I got an email from Amazon on the 11th saying that preorders would be available the next morning of the 12th.

  • Right… I missed out on a PS5 today first from Amazon (by the time I had entered my CC details my item in cart was gone), then from Harvey Norman (Site Crash) Then JB HiFi (Site Crash).

    I cannot for the life of me understand why you couldn’t just buy a PS5 from the Playstation Store via your PS4 – and it be limited to one PS4 per account. That way Sony could more or less ensure that all LEGIT customers get the next console.

    The way it is now, you have mostly people that aren’t interested in gaming just buying up all the stock to on-sell at a high price, locking real gamers out and spoiling the start of the next generation of consoles for the vast majority of people.

    Sony – Allow your active Playstation users to purchase directly from the PS4 interface!!!

  • I had a similar experience to a lot of others with JB Hifi – stuck on the “shipping” screen with an “Oops” error message until the PS5 was listed as sold out. I don’t know why but I figured that as a large retailer JB would be somewhat competent with high loads. But no.

  • I’m not sure how it would work in practice but some sort of system where you login with your gaming details (gamertag etc) and pay in full to secure your pre order, and only people who have done this can log onto the new consoles in the first 6 months or so.

    There needs to be some way to stop scalping systems like these, although I’d imagine even without scalping there’d be a massive shortfall of consoles vs demand!

    • Good point – at least allocate a certain proportion to the existing owner base – so you need proof of ownership. However, the reality is that there’s a 110 million PS4’s out in the wild, and a lot of those people would happily on-sell if they’re not hanging out for a PS5. The problem with scalping is all in the mark-up. If they were selling a $750 for $800 that would be a pain, but perhaps acceptable. Selling it for $1400 is downright sick… paying $1400 is perhaps sicker however.

      • I don’t care if all the consoles went to new players, the main thing I’d like is that the person who buys the console is somehow locked from selling it for 6 months or so! Never going to happen I know!

        Personally I’d never go to a scalper but obviously people do otherwise they wouldn’t be so commonplace!

  • I am incredibly distressed and disappointed with this. I had to buy a PS5 for my son who I promised it for Christmas. I was there for all this yesterday morning. Amazon asked me to re-enter my credit card details, which meant that by the time I had re-entered it – the consoles were gone. Gamesmen crashed. JB Hifi, despite having it in the cart, had an issue with shipping address and Harvey Norman was a joke.

    I feel like a bedraggled piece of road kill for doing this. I am now considering either not getting it ever or just building an AI bot of my own. Take that all retailers websites.

    How about all of the mum’s and dad’s of the world with 0 IT knowledge get bots and spam these websites? Maybe that might teach them a lesson?

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