Launch day for a console is typically a busy and exciting day for retailers, as eager consumers line up for hours, usually in the cold, for a chance at being one of the first to get their hands on a new gaming device.
But that’s for times when a deadly pandemic is not raging throughout the world. In the era of COVID-19, long lines outside of retail locations could easily become super spreader events.
On the PlayStation Blog, Sony Interactive Enertainment’s Senior Director of Content Communications, Sid Shuman, stated that PlayStation 5 consoles would not be available in any retail locations on the day of launch.
“In the interest of keeping our gamers, retailers, and staff safe amidst COVID-19, today we are confirming that all day-of launch sales will be conducted through the online stores of our retail partners.”
He also went on to say that anyone who was able to get a PlayStation 5 preorder and scheduled in-store pick up will still be able to get their console. This preventative measure was undertaken specifically to prevent a flood of in-person sales jamming through retail store doors on November 12. They are specifically trying to stop shoppers from lining up outside of stores.
“Be safe, stay home, and place your order online,” he said.
Of course, there weren’t a lot of those preorders. At least not enough to meet demand. Sony’s rollout was widely panned as the company seemed woefully unprepared to face the mountain of consumers who were chomping at the bit to get their hands on this new piece of hardware.
Just a few days later, when Microsoft released preorders for the Xbox Series X, the same thing happened all over again. There were too many preorders and not enough consoles to go around.
Because of the scarcity of these new consoles, many believe that the number one selling console of the 2020 holiday season won’t be either the PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X. Instead, many are predicting that the Nintendo Switch will move the most units, fitting under more Christmas trees this year than either of its newer opponents.
The Switch has seen something of a sales renaissance this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has left more people than ever struggling to entertain themselves at home. The Switch recently hit a record, selling the most gaming consoles in the United States for 22 consecutive months.