Recently, Kotaku’s emails have been inundated with tips from fans claiming Walmart is an egregiously horrible place to buy a PlayStation 5. And when we looked closer, it seemed like the wider internet beyond our inboxes agreed Walmart is a bad experience for next-gen consoles.
One email tip sent to us described how hard it is to get a next gen console and said Walmart’s PS5 restock “shenanigans” in particular have been a “fiasco.”
“Customer service will not help,” they said. Despite this, the retailer continues to amass orders for the popular and hard to find Sony console. At the end of this reader’s email, they said they hoped the retailer would “stop taking additional PS5 orders until the old orders have been fulfilled.”
The stories of delayed shipments is a believable one, given how hard it is to acquire anything these days. And other big retailers in the US, like GameStop, Target, and Best Buy certainly experience hiccups when selling such in-demand hardware. But somehow, Walmart in particular has gotten a bad rap for acquiring a PS5.
A couple of smaller subreddits like r/PS5Shipping hold a particular disdain for Walmart in comparison to other retailers due to how it handles its inventory of the console. In a poll where redditors voted for which retailer was their “least favourable” choice to secure a PS5, Walmart won by an quite margin, earning 168 votes out of the 225 cast.
According to our research, the last PS5 restock for Walmart was on September 23. Walmart’s competitors, Target and Best Buy last had their restocks on October 13 and October 1 respectively. Best Buy had an exclusive restock on PS5s for their TotalTech Members, a yearly subscription service that costs $US299 ($400), on October 11. And GameStop regularly does drops with console bundles that, while absurdly priced, still means that the gaming-centric store does actually have stock. I suppose sometimes you must pay to win.
According to stock checker Cameron Ritz, Walmart’s system for restocking the PlayStation 5 works differently than its competitors. Unlike Target and Best Buy, Walmart has allowed customers to place orders that the retailer projects it’ll have shipped to them. Because of this system, some customers receive the console earlier than expected while others are left waiting for “quite some time.”
“Walmart tends to be able to host larger restocks this way even if they don’t have them on hand yet,” he said. “They essentially sell a promise by a certain date for some people.”
In comparison, Ritz says Best Buy has restocked PS5’s less often but did have a larger nationwide restock and Target has restocked more frequently but in smaller numbers.
Amazon associate Wario64 said Walmart has been “pretty poor lately” in fulfilling orders not only with the PlayStation 5 but with the Nintendo Switch OLED as well.
Our sources say the answer to which retailer is the “worst” place to buy a PS5 fluctuates with each of them having their “highs and lows.” But right now, given that it’s been weeks since we’ve seen more hardware releases, Walmart buyers seem to be the most frustrated out of all PS5 hopefuls out there.
As we approach the holiday season, Ritz said all retailers should be prepared to fight against bots trying to scalp PS5s. “I don’t want to name any, but they are where a lot of PS5s end up instead of consumers’ Christmas shopping,” he said.
Copping a PS5 has been difficult for people due to the global shortage of semiconductor chips, according to PC Magazine. During a presentation at Code Conference, Lisa Su, the president and CEO of AMD, said she expects this shortage to ease by 2022. Although this might not provide any solace for customers who’ve been grinding to get a PS5, hopefully her projection might bring about a new game plan for people trying to buy the next-gen console in the future.
Kotaku reached out to Walmart for comment but didn’t receive a reply before publication.