3 lessons I learned trying to buy a PlayStation 5

As much as I consider myself a PC gamer, I love all  gaming platforms—consoles included—equally.

I remember my excitement watching the PlayStation 5 showcase last summer. Though I had qualms at the time about the feasibility of its design, I couldn’t wait to introduce one to our gaming setup. But even so, I knew we weren’t going to buy one when it first came out for two reasons.

For one, consoles always have issues at first launch.

No, really.

Remember the infamous red ring of death from the first Xbox 360s, or the disc-illiterate launch-day Xbox Ones? The first-gen PS4s that couldn’t boot up? Even the orange and/or blue screens of death that graced the first Nintendo Switches?

We weren’t willing to risk it for a $700 console, and decided we’d wait until they’d ironed out production kinks.

And for another thing, we’d just bought a house.

That comes with a lot of hidden fees—many of which we hadn’t anticipated. We decided to wait, and get a PS5 later on. But we hadn’t counted on what a challenge that would be.

The issue of supply and demand

It’s a fair statement to say that none of us expected the next-gen consoles to take off like they did.

Sure, we expected them to be popular. We expected them to sell out. We even expected there to be a period where they were tricky to get while supply caught up with demand.

But supply never did catch up to demand, and from what Sony has said, it won’t at least until next year.

It was frustrating, sure—but it wasn’t worth paying $1,500 to a random reseller who decided to mark up the price.

But then, the news broke about Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade.

I genuinely don’t know if I have the words to describe Shane’s love for Final Fantasy VII.

He was one of the first to preorder the First Class edition when it was released last year, and the wait for it to get here (delayed because of the pandemic, of course) was excruciating. He finished it in a week. And then, the countdown for Part 2 began.

Not long ago, though, Square Enix announced that Intergrade—a middle chapter between the games—would be a PS5 exclusive.

Though they haven’t announced much about Part 2 yet, I won’t be surprised if it’s a PS5 exclusive at launch, too. That seems to be the way Square Enix is going these days. So that lit a fire under us to find a PS5.

Here’s what I learned.

  1. Where you look matters.

It’s not hard to find listings for PS5s these days. A quick search turns up dozens on every site from your local game store to third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay. But at least when I was looking, I knew I wanted to focus on reputable stores, not marketplaces.

I’d heard too many horror stories about drivers stealing PS5s, so I figured I’d go with a place that I knew could safely deliver a large, theft-worthy purchase.

And well, at least big stores have the staff and the policies to keep your order safe.

That said, though, we didn’t buy our PS5 from a big store.

After I missed a couple of restocks, Shane found our console in a small local market group. The guy had accidentally bought two from a big store, and just wanted to get his money back. And that worked for us.

So, bottom line: Big stores and local groups good, online markets where scalpers thrive bad.

  1. You’ll need the right tools.

When I first started looking, I knew I’d need help. I had heard stories about how quickly PS5s would sell out. Not to mention, how quickly you had to act when they were in stock.

At first, I set up a Google alert for my email address.

I do not recommend this strategy.

All I got was a bunch of posts from Tom’s Guide and the like telling me which sites would have them in stock, like Best Buy and Amazon. Nothing about when they were actually in stock. Not helpful.

I’m not sure how, but a month into my search, I found a tracking site that made it much easier to do the next part.

  1. You’ll need to be quick.

Remember how I said PS5s sell out quickly? Let’s take a minute so I can illustrate that. This is a sample of the stock history on the tracking site I found:

If you read bottom-up, you can see that the regular console was in stock for all of 11 minutes the last time it was available. And the digital edition? Two minutes.

It hurts to think about, but that’s genuinely how quickly you need to react when they’re in stock.

On top of that, stores have procedures in place right now to limit purchases and hopefully, hinder illicit sales. Best Buy, for example, has a virtual line that only lets you access your cart to check out when the people ahead of you are done. This will chew into your reaction time.

It’s an unreasonable amount of work to buy a PS5 for the price it’s supposed to be, but if that’s your mission, I hope this helps. And good luck!

One thought on “3 lessons I learned trying to buy a PlayStation 5

  1. Congrats on getting your PS5 in the end, these are great tips for getting hold of one. 😃

    We are having to wait a while for ours and when we get it, we get it. Hopefully this winter.

    🌴 Living on a small island it can be difficult to get consoles/limited edition stuff. I missed out on my Animal Crossing Switch last year because of the pandemic even with the pre-order as shipping via GAME isn’t an option here LOL.

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