You enter the waiting room. Sitting at your computer, your anxiety begins to rise as you slowly watch the clock count down. As you wait, sweat drips down the side of your face and your fingers start to tremble in anticipation.
You have now entered the queue. Nervously awaiting your placement, the tab reloads. You’ve finally entered the Playstation website. In the ruthless race between your human hands and the computer bots, you click as fast as you can “Add to cart”.
You head to checkout but suddenly an error occurs. A pop-up appears on your screen stating “I’m sorry this item is out of stock for the day.”
You have lost the battle against the bots.
On November 12, Sony released their new console, the Playstation 5, after the last release of a new Playstation console seven years ago. Upon the release of the PS5, mayhem appeared; websites crashed as people scrambled to obtain the much desired console.
The race to secure the PS5 quickly became a vigorous online war. With the Playstation 5 at such high demand, only a lucky few will be able to obtain it.
A new console means many new upgrades. Fresh to the stylish PS5 is its design. Sony has departed from Playstation’s previous designs to a ravishing new black and white color scheme.
“I wanted to build out the design concept as the player’s energy or emotion, and try to conform to that. I think that [design] expressed the aura of a powerful machine. It looks organic maybe, but it came from very precise measurement,” Playstation 5’s designer, Yujin Morisawa, said in an interview with The Washington Post.
Apart from the astonishing design, the Playstation 5 has faster loading times as well, making it easier to quickly load into games, settings and the Playstation store itself. Along with the swift loading times comes a built-in 4K UHD Blu-ray drive and new riveting 3D audio tech. Now, not only can the PS5 be just a gaming console but it can also be a great home entertainment system as well.
One of the colossal improvements to the PS5 is the latest to have backward compatibility to PS4 games. This means that players won’t have to buy a whole new collection of games to play on their brand new console.
“The backwards compatibility was… a really good selling point because overall every console that’s ever released is only going to have like five games on it, just release titles… Playstation 5 only has like five games specifically meant for it and after you get through those there’s not really much you can do with your brand new $500 console. So if you have access to your old games then that’s even better,” sophomore Cash Sneed said.
Besides the compelling new features available on the Playstation 5, it’s the Sony-exclusive titles like “The Last of Us” and “Ratchet & Clank” that fans have grown up with since the days of the first Playstation. A loyal fan base was created, making many Playstation lovers hurdle to obtain the PS5 and its brand new exclusives, such as “Spider-man: Mile Morales” and “Returnal”.
These thrilling new exclusives are essential in setting Sony apart from other gaming manufacturers. The storytelling combined with their unrivaled level of sensory engagement (sounds, graphics, and vibrations) immerses players into a world that is so realistic, making it hard to resist.
“Storytelling and narratives are typically much much more powerful and effective when they’re credible and when they’re realistic. So there’s this happy sort of synergy between technology progress and our great ability to tell stories. I see that’s a trend that will only continue. And another reason it will only continue is that every time our studios do this, they get better at it. They become more experienced and they understand what works and doesn’t work. And the storytelling improves,” Sony CEO Jim Ryan stated in an interview with The Washington Post.
The new Xbox Series X was released on November 10, around the same time as the Playstation 5; however, Xbox did not see as high of demands. Why is this?
It turns out Sony’s creativity in creating new and impressive exclusives persistently has played a major role into why the Xbox has not seen as large of a response to customers as the new Playstation.
“One of the reasons that the Playstation has become more popular than the Xbox is because they simply have more exclusives. [When] the Xbox started out they were hugely popular with games like ‘Halo’ and ‘Gears of War’ but they’ve been recycling the same [games] over and over again and they haven’t come out with anything new in a long time. The Playstation is shooting out 10 out of 10 stuff [repeatedly],” Sneed said.
It appears that the Playstation 5 pre-orders were the kindling of the PS5 struggle. Many customers tried to prepare for the Playstation 5 launch by pre-ordering their new console; little did they know Sony was not prepared for the demand.
In addition to the unpredictably high demands, Sony jumped the gun, releasing the Playstation a day earlier than the original date to be publicized, September 17.
“They launched on accident and so did a whole bunch of other retailers, so before the pre-order even happened they had already had it opened so all of [the Playstation 5s] were gone before the actual day had come,” Kennedy Nato, one of the lucky few to secure a PS5, said.
On the day of the launch, every website selling the new console crashed due to the high amounts of people online.
“Every single site crashed within like two seconds. Whether it was Best Buy, Walmart,or Target, every single one crashed at one point or another which is crazy compared to the Xbox that also came out within the same couple days. For Xbox X pre-orders, I was able to get one and so was [my brother] on the same day. We casually logged on and we didn’t wait, we didn’t [have to] do anything… So the demand for Playstation was out of the water crazy amazing like it sold out within 10 seconds,” Nato said.
“This is why we can’t have anything nice guys…The internet was broken, people were scrambling, just refreshing their browsers…we are veterans of the Playstation 5 pre-order war,” Youtuber, 8-bit Eric, said in his video, “PS5 Pre-orders Sell Out: Scalpers Everywhere”.
Unfortunately, most of the Playstation 5s were sold out due to scalpers. People are taking advantage of obtaining the new console and gaining profit off of it. By using bots to help procure multiple Playstations, they resell them for ridiculously high prices on Ebay and other reseller platforms.
Senior Owen Miller believes retailers should find a solution to prevent scalpers from stockpiling this precious commodity.
“If they are going to do another online launch they have to upgrade their systems to be able to stop [scalpers], where they can [restrict] how much people can buy instead of just hoping that people don’t buy like seven,” Miller stated.
Due to COVID-19, the way people purchase items has drastically changed: online shopping has already been on the rise. Now because of the pandemic, it is the sole way to purchase many items, including the PS5.
“If COVID had not happened this would not at all be an online launch. A lot of people are used to sleeping outside and waiting the day before… you do have a better chance [of securing the PS5] and you lead out bots that way because the people who really want it are going to wait in line to get it and they’re going to get it first,” Nato said.
When walking into a physical store for a new console launch, many employees are ready to tell scalpers only one console per person. However, because the PS5 launch was online, that rule didn’t apply anymore. Leading to many more scalpers than expected to snatch the majority of the Playstation 5s.
“When people walk into a store it’s easy to stop scalpers, they walk into the store they’re taking like 5 Playstations, you can say you can only take one, it’s simple you make them put it back, but online they didn’t account for it, they didn’t think to put [a restriction] on how much you can put in your cart, they thought that it would be just like other years and have it down,” Miller said.
These scalpers are not only causing a major sell-out for PS5s but they’re also leaving many children hopeless in clenching the new console for Christmas.
“[Scalpers are] the worst, it’s really sad because adults obviously want it like myself but they’re also kids who want it for Christmas who aren’t going to be able to get it because people are buying it for 500 dollars and then they’re reselling it for 3,000 dollars and it takes away the fun and the magic of what a console is supposed to do, which is bring people happiness and they’re taking that away from people,” Nato said.
However, with the technology becoming so advanced, it’s mind-boggling to see how intelligent and quick bots can be. Is there really anything these retailers could have done to prevent scalpers from rushing into online browsers to attain numerous PS5s?
“Bots have gotten smarter than humans, they’re faster than humans. It’s almost scary how crazy-quick they are and I feel unless all these online retailers build out bot-protection, which can take years to perfect, [it will be an ongoing problem]. It doesn’t help when you have a planned launch time which the retailers have to give [to the public]… people can easily just set their bots for that time, so I don’t really know if they could’ve done much more,” Nato stated.
Along with the numerous scalpers causing many of the Playstations to be unavailable, many celebrities have been receiving the new PS5 for free. In an attempt to get brand recognition, Sony has given celebrities such as rapper, Travis Scott, and soccer star, Robert Lewandowski, Playstation 5s to promote on their social media pages. Social media influencers are given priority to gain access to multiple PS5s and in turn, are using them as free giveaways for likes and subscribers.
“I think today more than ever celebrities are seen as these god-like figures who are above everyone else and I don’t necessarily agree with that, I do think they should not be sent it…at the end of the day you have like these 10,000 Playstations that went out to celebrities for no reason, for free and that’s really just taking away from people who would be ecstatic to only get one,” Nato said.
With the overload of demands, Sony has learned the effects of an online launch during a pandemic. Sony CEO, Jim Ryan feels relieved after one of the hardest launches Playstation has had to endure.
“I guess my two principle feelings are one of happiness as things appear to be going well, and secondly of relief – we did it in this unusual, strange and frankly a rather difficult year. Of all the things that I’ve learned this year, one is that I wouldn’t plan on doing another big console launch in the midst of a global pandemic,” Ryan stated.
So what’s next for the Playstation 5? Playstation 5s are expected to be restocked worldwide by the end of January 2021. Hopefully, the world won’t see another round of sell-outs due to scalpers.
What can players expect to see from future Playstation consoles?
“I think we’re more than a few minutes from the future of VR. PlayStation believes in VR. Sony believes in VR, and we definitely believe at some point in the future, VR will represent a meaningful component of interactive entertainment. Will it be this year? No. Will it be next year? No. But will it come at some stage? We believe that. And we’re very pleased with all the experience that we’ve gained with PlayStation VR, and we look forward to seeing where that takes us in the future,” Jim Ryan said as he expresses his excitement to introduce virtual reality into future consoles.