Sony's PS5 preorder situation is an inexcusable mess

Dualsense Ps5 Blue Ps Background
Dualsense Ps5 Blue Ps Background (Image credit: Android Central)

If you took Sony at its word and went to sleep yesterday hoping to preorder a PS5 in the morning, you likely woke up disappointed today. After announcing — not during its PS5 showcase, mind you, with all eyes watching, but on Twitter after the fact — that preorders for the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition would go on sale on Thursday, September 17, retailers decided to say "screw that" and put them up for preorder immediately. In nearly the same instant, initial stock vanished.

Remember when PlayStation worldwide marketing head Eric Lempel indicated that Sony would give players plenty of advance notice before the PS5 went up for preorder? Specifically, he said, "it's not going to happen with a minute's notice" and seemingly scoffed at that very idea. In fact, here it is directly from his mouth:

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I don't know about you, but saying, "by the way, you can preorder it tomorrow!" is not "plenty of advance notice," regardless of whether stores decided to push them live early.

And, of course, this botched communication led to people scrambling to preorder. GameStop's entire website crashed because the flood of potential buyers triggered its DDoS protections. Best Buy orders hung on checkout, and ultimately, plenty of scalpers are already trying to sell PS5 preorders for over a grand on eBay.

Ps5 Amazon

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Let's also not forget that just a few weeks ago, Sony's own website let PS4 owners sign up for the chance to be the first in the world to preorder a PS5. You know when people finally received emails that they've been selected? Last night — after preorders sold out at other retailers. And they'll have to wait until Friday to preorder from Sony directly.

Xbox is offering clear and concise messaging.

In stark contrast, we have Microsoft offering clear and concise messaging regarding Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S preorders. Both will go up for preorder on September 22, and we should be learning exact times soon. That actually gives us plenty of advance notice. With a convenient financing plan, to boot.

It's clear that the line of communication between PlayStation, fans, and retailers was broken at every step. For a team with (hopefully) decades of marketing experience under its belt, this is inexcusable. If your competition can pull it off, so can you.

I'm understanding of COVID-related logistical hurdles, but this is beyond ridiculous. The PS5 showcase yesterday even contained errors that said Final Fantasy 16 and Demon's Souls would be coming to PC, which is apparently not the case.

All in all, one of the biggest companies in the world looked like it had no control over the messaging around its most important launch in recent memory.

Sony, do better.

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.

  • Yeah literally lying about pre-orders is a bit Weirdchamp... Think I'll wait for a better colour anyway.
  • I never buy a new console at release, but I'm with you hoping that a black version rolls out by the time I am ready to buy a PS5.
  • Obviously they were trying to beat Microsoft to pre-orders. Your competition can't sell anything if customers already spent their money. Greed overcame customer loyalty on this one.
  • Not really. That may be the case if there were limits and more people could buy them. Instead, you had people buying multiples to gouge sell them on eBay. That doesn't get more PS5s in to the hands of people who can buy. How many do you think are going to say screw it and buy an Xbox instead? You have them in the hands of a few. We all know Sony is making little to nothing off of each sale, looking to make money on games, accessories, and services. How does Sony get that when you have few people selling them at ridiculously inflated prices? That actually hurts Sony. Additionally, Sony is launching PS5 AFTER Xbox ships. So yeah, they may have gotten the preorders, but in the end, Microsoft still gets first launch. So why was it extremely necessary to have an immediate launch after announcement?
  • Sony has literally never had anything resembling customer loyalty. Be serious, lol.
  • I agree that Sony is generally one of the more arrogant companies out there.
  • I think it is less about Microsoft having clear and concise messaging, and more about the fact that the PS5 has been dominating the news cycle in gaming, and the hype and anticipation and demand have been at a fever pitch for a long time now. Microsoft's launch is very "meh". It's not bad, and I'm sure it will do well, but there is nowhere near the same kind of anticipation, buzz or overall demand (if polls and industry pundits are to be believed). And now Sony has set the pace for the preorders, so if Microsoft doesn't have a similar run on preorders they will be framed as a complete failure (though that will not be the case). Though I 100% agree that it is an inexcusable mess.
  • Not even close. There hasn't been a single word about PS5 on any site in the past 2 months until the last week when the PS5 showcase - which ended up being utter garbage - was upcoming.
  • What was the point of all those sites having us enter our email to be the "first" to be notified when pre-orders went live. Ebay should suspend every sale of the PS5 that is over the retail price.
  • Best Buy was the only one that notified me of the preorder being available. None of the others did. That's ridiculous. I agree - what was the point? Of course, it got buried in my email, so I missed it. That part's on me. Still, no one else did. I agree with suspending eBay sales that are gouging like that. It's ridiculous. What's even more ridiculous that Sony didn't demand retailers limit sales to one per customer. So you had a bunch of jerks buying them up to rip people off. That's inexcusable.
  • mine!!! ;) I had to click Best Buy's 'proceed to pay' for nearly 3hrs (finally at 2:45am)...but I'm locked in for Nov 12th. :)
  • What's really dumb is why did Sony feel the need to jump the gun like this? So you can preorder it sooner than you can Xbox. Big deal. Anyone who goes for an Xbox will STILL get theirs sooner than any PS5. They could have done any time between Friday and Monday and still beat MS to the punch. If you'll notice, most retailers have a weasel way out of the Sept 17 date. Most of them put it up after 8pm EST - or midnight GMT. So yes, technically it was Sept 17 using GMT - and many servers are. That would likely have to be argued in court if Sony took any action against retailers jumping the gun. I think there should be sanctions for those that jumped the gun - and even more if they didn't limit sales to one per customer. I don't know if they can though, if that wasn't in the contract. Regardless, it's pretty crappy as it's allowing jerks to hoard and gouge on eBay. I can understand having a large family and wanting or needing more. I think a happy medium there could be different people ordering one each. Still, I think limits should at least be in place initially until production can catch up to demand. Regardless, the whole situation sucks. Sony screwed the pooch on this one.
  • A question for those who were able to attempt (or succeed) getting a PS5 last night - were retailers wanting full payment or a deposit? I got the PS4 on launch and Best Buy was only taking $100 deposits, with the rest due at pick up.
  • Sony finally slipping up and showing what garbage they've always been. I love it.
  • I find it kinda funny how many people are getting soo butt hurt about Sonys pre-order release..saying Sony messed up and ****. When in reality I think it was genius marketing to truly gauge the level of demand. Like honesty whether they had done it in secret like they had or planned out more they still would have disappeared just as quickly. However by doing it this way, it allows all of the people who weren't fortunate enough to lock one in to see how serious the demand really is which will in turn cause peoples urgency for it to continue increasing. Make the people want what they can't have!!! And yes I am one of the unfortunate people that wasnt able to get one but can still appreciate amazing marketing when I see it.
  • How does it truly gauge demand when you have people hoarding them and a large portion of the customer base not even knowing it went on sale last night instead? Sony sold out, no one's surprised by that. MS will likely sell out too. Everyone knows that demand is there. They have enough historical data for that, and then adding for the fact that game sales have increased becasue more people are stuck at home due to Covid. Good marketing makes people want your product. It doesn't piss off customers, some of which may be pissed enough to go to the competition instead. It's also not about being "butt hurt" that people couldn't order one. I don't think anyone reasonably thought that everyone who wanted one was going to get one. The chance existed that you could miss the boat. The problem is that the process really wasn't fair, and certainly not what Sony had indicated by its top execs. It's not fair in that retailers jumped the gun and didn't inform people in the way they promised (by email), and jumped the gun by over 5 hours in some cases. It's BS that hoarders were able to buy a ton to gouge people later. It works against Sony's interests of getting it into as many hands as possible. It doesn't do them any good if gougers price it too high that few will pay, or leave the ones that are dumb enough to pay those high prices with little money to buy extras and games - the stuff that will actually make Sony a profit. They make little to nothing off the consoles - barely $50 is the $450 cost to build estimate is accurate. Likely less if you include the retailer's profit too. It's disappointing not getting one when everyone has a fair shot at it. Everyone understands first come first served and that one can lose in that situation. The whole process wasn't fair. A reasonable person would think sales starting on Sept 17 would indicate earliest availability at 1200a EST. Doing 1200a GMT or earlier is BS.
  • I think the next day preorders aren’t that bad. The only reason this is a mess is because of the retailers. Instead of waiting until today to go live on the preorders they did within hours. The only 2 that didn’t have the preorders up was Amazon and Sony. Most preorders go live 9-10am that morning. The retailers set off a frenzy, which hurt the fans more then anything. As the scalpers got in there and bought a ton for eBay. Trying to sell the freaking ps5 for more then double it’s price. On top of that look at how the XSS was leaked. Then the floodgates came pouring out. I think that both MS and Sony had different plans then what played out. Xbox had the press briefing leaked that talks about the XSX/S.