February 1, 2023

An image of a shopping cart with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles inside (or out).

After two years on the market, you’d probably think it would be easier to launch a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X by now.

Of course, there is the shortage of semiconductors that the world still struggles with and a bottleneck in the supply chain. is expected to last until 2023 (if not 2024 according to some estimates). But, as Jim Ryan, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said the annual PlayStation Partner Awards in Japan on December 2, the company apparently “solved the PlayStation 5’s long-term delivery problemin Asian markets.

Oh yeah? Then why, when Kotaku called several physical stores a few days before Christmas this year, were we told that stock for both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles was very limited or completely gone?

The truth is that while it’s gotten a little easier to get your hands on new-gen consoles, it still takes diligence and patience – unless you want the smaller, nicer Series S, or can wait for it to ship. Otherwise, just like last yearif you’re hoping to walk in and out of a store with a brand spanking new console in hand, you’re probably out of luck.

Stock in physical stores is unreliable

An image of a woman shopping in a department store, with most of the shelves except PlayStation 5 controllers on the left and Xbox Series S consoles on the right.

You might be tempted to call your local brick-and-mortar store, such as Best Buy or GameStop, with the goal of buying a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X from the store. That is certainly a possibility, although it depends on the console you go for.

That’s what a GameStop employee told us at a location in Manhattan, New York Kotaku over the phone that Sony’s system is “rarely” in stock and when it hits store shelves it’s gone in a week. The Xbox Series X is “slightly more common,” the employee said, but the same inventory problem arises: when it’s available, it sells out in a few days. This situation is replicating at other brick-and-mortar stores, including Best Buy and Walmart, with store associates at both retailers Kotaku in brief phone interviews that the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are “occasionally” in stock but sell out quickly.

Surprisingly, things are a little different at Target. An employee at a Manhattan store said the PlayStation 5 was actually on shelves “right now”, but people who wanted to buy one couldn’t just walk in, take one to the counter and checkout. Instead, you have to do an in-store pick-up through the company’s website and if stock was available you could walk in with cash and walk out with a PlayStation 5. In a dazzling twist, the Xbox Series X was immediately available. The employee said that if I really wanted to, I could immediately go and buy the console from Microsoft. However, they were quick to point out that all system purchases, especially on the PlayStation 5, were limited to one per person due to “security issues”. Yuck.

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 of buying a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X online and having it delivered to your home. All major retailers usually stock both consoles, and if they’re not available alone, you can usually get them bundled with a game or subscription. There are of course some exceptions here. GameStopfor example, is completely sold out individually Playstation 5s and Xbox Series Xs now online. Like it is Best Buy On the PlayStation5though you can order the Xbox Series X if you have an account.

It’s always picky when ordering something from Walmart, as the company tends to partner with third-party sellers to complete transactions. But as I look at the company’s website now, Playstation 5s and Xbox Series Xs are usually available to purchase online, although prices for these consoles seem to vary wildly. Purpose is equally strange, of both systems either “discontinued for shipping” or relegated to in-store pick-up only – if they’re available at all, of course. Here’s a quick note though: you can also order the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X directly from them Sony and Microsoft‘s official websites, and they seem to be in stock. Shipping here also appears to be similar to other major retailers, with orders placed now arriving just a few days after Christmas. Not bad.

Hey, you can always just buy an Xbox Series S

A zoomed-in image of the Xbox Series S.

It’s just so cute, even when zoomed in.
Image: Microsoft

You may have noticed I skipped an entire console: the Xbox Series S. That’s because, as I wrote earlier, Microsoft’s cheaper, smaller system is almost always available. Several employees in the physical stores told Kotaku over the phone that they had “enough” Xbox Series Ss on their shelves at the moment. And as I poked around multiple online stores, including Microsoft’s own website, the slimmer sister to the colossal shoebox Xbox Series X was ready to be ordered.

Sure, it’s not the monstrous powerhouse that’s the Xbox Series X. It can’t natively output “true 4K” and has only four teraflops of processing power compared to its bigger sister’s 12. And yes, you only get 512 GB of internal storage instead of 1 TB. But what the system lacks in power it makes up for in its impressive form factor and accessible price. If you’re willing to make those little trade-offs then the Xbox Series S is a great way to get into this current generation of console gaming.

Another year is in the books, y’all. We made it. The entertainment and technology industry is still battered by both the ongoing pandemic and semiconductor shortages, but things seem to be smoothing out a bit. Perhaps the prediction of getting a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X next year around this time will be significantly better. At least we don’t have to worry much about bots anymore.

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