New console generations come around every seven or eight years. I’ve been a huge Playstation fan since the first generation launched in 1994 and have owned every generation since! Though, I’ve never bought one at launch, let alone celebrate the “joyous” occasion.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, or taking the pandemic really seriously by tuning out all the news, you probably heard of the Xbox Series X and PS5 launching recently. So, for the next few years, these consoles will be part of the discussion when it comes to everything gaming and media.
What I also think will be part of the discussion is how crazy the launch wAS.
I was one of the fortunate souls that was able to secure a PS5 of my own. Let me tell you, it wasn’t a smooth process at all. The PS5 is the first time I bought a console at launch, and I can now understand why so many people choose to sit it out and wait rather than get caught up in the shit-show. To hear my full story of how I lucked out and managed to score one, check out the video below.
Here’s 5 things I learned about the PS5’s launch.
1. Bad Bots are the Worst
What’s a bad bot? Bad bots are bots that are programmed to do malicious stuff, like steal website data. But they’re also designed to flood sites with traffic in order to buy things in bulk that will be scalped on other sites like eBay or Craigslist. I’ve never really had to worry about these until recently. Sure, I’ve run into them a few times when trying to get tickets to popular shows and concerts, but not on this scale.
When PS5s were announced for preorder, it sold out in literally minutes. Sites like Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target all experienced large traffic congestions from bots and consumers alike. What ended up happening is many people were simply left to refresh their browsers, or refresh their carts because sites couldn’t take all the volume. I actually was one of these consumers, having to contend with bots.
The other crumby thing about this experience is that websites, as far as I know, couldn’t care less if bots are coming in to take all the stock – they’re still getting paid. What ends up happening with these bot-purchased PS5s is they go on sale by upwards of 500%, even more! There was one that even went on sale for $25,000! What the actual fuck.
I don’t know if companies like eBay have policies against scalping, but unless there is strict regulations put in place, this type of bot activity will continue to happen.
2. Miscommunication Hurts us all
I work in communication, so I totally understand the importance of getting the message right. And I totally see where Sony was going when they communicated to consumers that they would announce when pre-orders would go live. Perhaps Walmart didn’t get the memo, because they just randomly decided to go live with their pre-orders without any warning, and pretty much ignored what Sony had to say on the matter.
This caused Amazon, Target, and Best Buy to go live with their pre-orders to compete with Walmart. And everything I mentioned above, the traffic congestion and bots getting up in there, happened. I understand businesses want to make money and they likely couldn’t care less how people gave them their money – just as long as they got their money.
But this type of rub will be remembered for years to come. I’ve read online that launches tend to be crazy like this anyways – but why? Why does it have to be like this? And why can’t everything just be smooth?
I know this is a bit different, and two totally different companies in terms of scope, but look at how smooth Apple launches go. Sure, there are still lineups and it gets crazy when people want to try to get the new iPhone – but Apple still does their due diligence in articulating when, where, and how a launch is going down. And they do this every year! Sony had seven years to figure out a way to go about launching their console – yet, here we are. Loads of PS5s in the hands of bots and not enough in the hands of die-hard fans.
3. Community is Clutch
Despite managing to score a pre-order, Walmart offered me almost no information on the status of my package. On the Walmart website, it was forever under a state of “Processing – will be delivered on November 12.”
That’s fine… If I still lived at the residence it was being delivered to! Having moved recently, I needed to know when and exactly where my package was. Having a PS5 lying somewhere in a box, waiting to be picked up – nah, that’s a hard no, bro.
A week or so before launch date, I turned to the Reddit PS5 community for advice. I was both elated and concerned to see sooooo many people experiencing the same issues with their retailer of choice. Target, Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy were all being tightlipped about packages. And again, I totally get the complexity of shipping millions of consoles to people all over the US in a timely manner – let alone in a manner conducive of honesty and transparency, but I digress.
Not only did I feel less shit knowing hundreds of other people were going through the same thing, I also felt enlightened! I was put on to downloading the FedEx Manager app because it syncs to any orders that are currently being processed in your name – as long as it’s the same delivery address. Low and behold, this bit of advice did the trick in figuring out how to intercept the FedEx delivery driver. Man, Reddit, thanks! A lot of people tend to think negatively of Redditors, but the way community builds over there is beautiful – most of the time.
4. Early Adopters are Guinea Pigs
You have your new PS5 in hand (I hope), and you’ve got it all set up and ready to play some sweet 4K 60FPS Miles Morales webslinging… Only to see that it won’t install! It gets stuck in a download queue…
Not only has this happened to Miles Morales, but various other PS5 launch titles. If you’re wondering what that means, it means the game can’t download onto the system. Ergo, it can’t be played. You’ve just spent $499 on something that can’t even play a game! I haven’t seen much news from Sony on this front, but they did recently release a firmware update, so I’m hoping that fixed the issues. My fix was simply swapping another copy at Best Buy.
And there are more errors (here’s a Reddit thread dedicated to them). Even though it’s nice to be one of the lucky few to get ahead on the new generation, it sucks having to be the guinea pigs when it comes to errors, bugs, and patches. It happens at every launch, the PS5 is no exception. And what usually happens in a console’s lifecycle is that all the bugs and errors are fixed, based off the activity of early adopters, and a few years later a newer, sexier, less-error-prone version of a console comes out!
5. NEVER Lose Hope
There are two scenarios why you’re reading this. You’re a PS5 owner and want to laugh at the miserable experience of nabbing one. Or you’re one of those souls that wasn’t able to pre-order one, and are waiting eagerly for them to be restocked.
It will happen.
Do your due diligence and sign up for as many in-stock email alerts as you can (I signed up for Walmart’s and it actually worked for me). Scour websites that track retailer inventory in realtime. Add your credit card information and shipping information to your retailers of choice so that the checkout process is easier.
Sony right now is having a tough time keeping up with the demand and getting systems out to people is evidently harder than people can imagine. But they are working on doing it and you’ll be PS5-gaming in no time. For now, take your last gen console out for a nice sunset and play all those games that are in your backlog. You’ll even be able to continue where you left off on your new PS5.