New product launches are often fraught with problems, from limited supplies to system failures. In the early days of iPhone launches, it was common for people to be turned away because there was no product available for customers. It got worse when 3rd party retailers got involved in the process. This week's launch of information about, and subsequent preorders for, the PlayStation 5 harken back to those days of complete sales chaos.
Watching the websites for participating retailers, such as Walmart and GameStop, it seemed as though they had as little information about what was happening as their customers. Retailer inventory was incredibly low, websites slowed to a crawl, and many people were booted from the process. Physical stores were given even less inventory availability and were only allowed to pre-order for that allotment, as opposed to being able to pre-order against the company's overall inventory.
Take, for example, GameStop. While we are unaware of the allotment of consoles for the company as a whole, Ars Technica analyzed in-store inventory and discovered that physical GameStop stores only received an average of 30 consoles. Of those, less than 10 were the less expensive All Digital edition, meaning that those who came into the store to pre-order a PS5 All Digital were more likely to be met with a choice - commit to spend an extra $100 or take their chances with another store.
However, if Amazon was their other store of choice, their disappointment might have been even greater. After pre-orders were completed for Amazon, emails were sent out to some who managed to secure one. This email stated,
We're contacting you about your order of PlayStation 5 console to let you know in advance that you may not receive this item on the day it is released due to high demand. We'll make every effort to get the item to you as soon as possible once released.
As it turns out, Amazon oversold their pre-order allotment by enough that they don't believe they will be able to fulfill those orders with new allotments or day 1 inventory. This led to a report from Bloomberg that said Sony had cut production by 4 million units for the fiscal year. However, Sony has said in no uncertain terms that this is a false report, and that inventory is increasing, not decreasing. In fact, the company announced via Twitter that more pre-order inventory was being made available to retailers in the coming week. Hopefully, this will help Amazon fulfill the orders already on the books.