After two years on the market, you’d probably think scooping up a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X would be simpler by now.
Sure, there’s the semiconductor shortage the world is still contending with and a supply-chain bottleneck that’s expected to last until 2023 (if not 2024 according to some estimates). But, as Sony Interactive Entertainment president Jim Ryan said at the annual PlayStation Partner Awards ceremony in Japan on December 2, the company has apparently “resolved the long-term supply issue of the PlayStation 5” in Asian markets.
Oh yeah? Then why, when Kotaku called several brick-and-mortar stores just a few days before Christmas this year were we told inventory for both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles was either very limited or completely gone?
The truth of the matter is, while it has become somewhat easier to get your hands on new-gen consoles, doing so still requires diligence and patience—unless you want the smaller, cuter Series S, or can wait for shipping. Otherwise, much like last year, if you were hoping to walk in and out of a store with a brand-spanking-new console in hand, you’re likely out of luck.
Inventory In Brick-And-Mortar Stores Is Unreliable
You might be tempted to call up your local physical retailer like Best Buy or GameStop with the goal of buying a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X in the store. That’s certainly a possibility, though it depends on the console you’re going for.
A GameStop associate at a Manhattan, New York location told Kotaku over the phone that Sony’s system is “rarely” in stock and when it is on the store shelves, it’s gone within the week. The Xbox Series X is “a little more common,” the associate said, but the same inventory issue arises: When it is available, it’s sold out in just a few days’ time. This situation is repeated at other physical stores, including Best Buy and Walmart, with store associates at both retailers telling Kotaku in brief phone interviews that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are “occasionally” in stock but quickly sell out.
Surprisingly, things are a little different at Target. An employee at a Manhattan store said that the PlayStation 5 was actually sitting on the shelves “right now,” but folks looking to buy one couldn’t just walk in, take one to the counter, and check out. Instead, you have to do an in-store pick-up through the company’s website and, if inventory was available, then you could walk in with money and walk out with a PlayStation 5. In an eye-popping twist, the Xbox Series X was immediately available. The employee said, if I really wanted to, I could go buy Microsoft’s console this instant. They were quick to point out, though, that all system purchases—especially on the PlayStation 5—were limited to one per person due to “security concerns.” Yikes.
Online Retailers Are A Bit Better, But Not By Much
If brick-and-mortar stores are unreliable in terms of physical inventory, you may have a better chance at buying a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X online and shipping it to your home. All the major retailers typically have both consoles in stock and if they aren’t available by themselves, you can usually get it bundled with a game or subscription. There are some exceptions here, of course. GameStop, for example, is completely sold out of individual PlayStation 5s and Xbox Series Xs online right now. As is Best Buy on the PlayStation 5, though you can order the Xbox Series X if you have an account.
It’s always finicky ordering something from Walmart, as the company tends to partner with third-party sellers to complete transactions. But, as I’m checking the company’s website right now, PlayStation 5s and Xbox Series Xs are mostly available to purchase online—though the prices for these consoles seem to vary wildly. Target is similarly strange, with both systems either being “discontinued for shipping” or relegated to in-store pick-up only—if they are even available at all, of course. One quick note here, though: You could also order the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X directly from Sony and Microsoft’s official websites, and they appear to be in stock. Shipping here seems to be comparable to other major retailers as well, with orders placed now arriving just a few days after Christmas. Not bad.
Hey, You Could Always Just Get An Xbox Series S
It’s just so cute, even when zoomed in.Image: Microsoft
You may have noticed I skipped one whole console: the Xbox Series S. That’s because, as I wrote earlier, Microsoft’s cheaper, smaller system is almost always available. Several associates across the brick-and-mortar stores told Kotaku over the phone that they had “plenty” of Xbox Series S’s sitting on their shelves at the moment. And while I was browsing around multiple online retailers, including Microsoft’s own website, the slimmer sister to the behemoth shoebox Xbox Series X was ready to be ordered.
Sure, it’s not the monster powerhouse that is the Xbox Series X. It can’t output native “true 4K” and only has four teraflops of processing power when compared to the bigger sister’s 12. And yeah, you do only get 512 GB of internal storage instead of 1 TB. But what the system lacks in power is made up by its impressive form factor and accessible price point. If you’re willing to make those minor trade-offs, then the Xbox Series S is an excellent way to get into this current generation of console gaming.
Another year is in the books, y’all. We made it through. The entertainment and technology industries are still getting battered by both the ongoing pandemic and semiconductor shortages, but it does appear that things are smoothing over a little. Maybe this time next year, the forecast of getting a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X will be significantly better. At the very least, we don’t have to worry much about bots anymore.