Since the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S went on sale last fall, Best Buy hasn’t sold any next-gen consoles in its physical stores, quoting security concerns around covid-19. That changed on Wednesday, when the big box retailer said it would sell a limited supply in stores across the country today. As you might expect, it was all a lot.
Over the past ten months, it has been nearly impossible to get your hands on an Xbox Series X / S or a PS5, despite both surpassing the sales records of their predecessor consoles. Typically, when stock for the Xbox Series X / S or PS5 becomes available, it does so digitally, either through third-party retailers – Walmart, Target and, if you pay for the premium subscription, GameStop, or direct purchases from Microsoft and Sony. There is usually almost no warning for such availability. And when the ads go live, they’re gone in the blink of an eye, with products being picked up by bots, scalpers, and digital shoppers as one with the matrix.
Best Buy has resisted this trend – and I know it may sound incredible, given the tactics of the past year –give a warning. As reported by IGN, Best Buy said it will offer limited supplies of next-gen consoles in 300 locations across the country: at least one store in every state, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
The ploy has resulted in people camping overnight, in queues that stretch around stores, all in an effort to play next-gen games like Return and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart (or, let’s be real, a backward compatible version of Grand Theft Auto V). Take a look at this line, recorded by popular Call of Duty YouTuber TmarTn, at a Best Buy at MIllenia Mall in Orlando:
Local CBS North Carolina affiliate WFMY captured a similar line at Best Buy in Winston-Salem, NC:
Not as frantic as the lines for the famous Winston-Salem Open, sure, but still not what you would want to see when trying to get hold of a consumer product that isn’t really new and is already owned by millions of people.
Here’s a photo of Bob Varettoni, communications director at the New York-based Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, showing the lines this morning at Best Buy on Fifth Avenue:
And another, photographed by Twitter user @alfarosalvador, showing dozens of people resisting the rain:
At present, social networks are commonplace with similar stories: photos and videos of excruciating lines, stories of success and failure.
In March, Mat Piscatella from the NPD group Recount Kotaku that by the end of the summer, the shortage of next-gen consoles might look like a “normal” state – where you could just go to your local GameStop and buy a console off the shelf. But he clearly noted that such a prediction was optimistic to say the least and depended entirely on “nothing else. [going] wrong.”
Summer ended two days ago. Lots of things have gone wrong. The global semiconductor shortage that drive this rarity is now expected last until next year. But hey, at least a few more people were able to score a PS5 on Thursday.