PlayStation 5 Is the Hottest Holiday Gift — Again
(Bloomberg) -- On Tuesday morning, Amazon began selling some PlayStation 5s. They were gone within a few minutes — and that was slower than usual.
In a rare, maybe unprecedented run of popularity, the latest version of Sony’s gaming console is poised to be the hottest holiday gift for consecutive Christmases. The streak has been fueled in part by how hard it is to find: Since its release in November of 2020, a shortage of microchips and supply-chain disruptions have constrained production.
For someone trying to buy a PS5 at retail, the Amazon sellout is a familiar scene. The evolution of computer programs — often called bots — to quickly buy goods online has been a boon for resellers. A year after its debut, one model of the PS5 is still selling for $775 on resale site StockX — more than 90% above its retail price.
An ecosystem has been built up around buying PS5s and other gaming hardware. On one side are Twitter accounts, Reddit threads and chat groups exchanging information on when and where consoles will be sold. They’re competing with — or aiding, in some cases — resellers who share the same details, often with the goal of buying in bulk.
As Black Friday approaches, speculation is rampant in these parts of the internet over which retailers might be releasing inventory in physical stores — an obvious way to thwart the resellers and the bots they use to buy up online inventory in seconds.
In a subreddit dedicated to PS5 restocking, one user said five GameStop locations confirmed they would be selling the console on Thursday or Friday. They advised to get in line the night before. One commenter pointed out how cold it was supposed to be. And another user decided to stop chasing the hardware after months of disappointment.
A GameStop representative didn’t respond to requests for comment. However, the company suggested in a Twitter post on Tuesday that consoles would be available in stores this week.
The lure of the PS5 is helping some chains revive the in-person frenzy of past holiday shopping seasons. So-called doorbuster deals used to draw crowds to stores on the day after Thanksgiving, but now many of those promotions have moved online. Last Black Friday, one of the only retailers to draw big lines was GameStop, which had said some PS5 inventory would be available.
A handful of stores are capitalizing on the steady demand to boost paid membership programs. Walmart has made some PS5s available only to customers enrolled in Walmart+ and Best Buy has done similar releases for Totaltech members — while supplies last, of course.
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