Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are launching next month from Sony and Microsoft with gamers desperate to get their hands on the latest generation of consoles before the festive period.
However, fans are now finding it near impossible to pre-order them with most retailers out of stock already.
Major retailers including Amazon, Argos, Currys PC World and Game are unable to take any more orders at present with most asking their customers to check the website for future updates.
While there is always much fanfare with new console launches, it is likely demand has been even higher this year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic – Nintendo and its Switch device, for example, saw a boom in sales as people looked for entertainment in lockdown.
The new PS5 and the Xbox Series X are due to launch in November but are already out of stock
Pre-orders for the new consoles opened at 9am on 17 September with the hotly anticipated PS5 officially out on 19 November and the Xbox Series X will come a week before on 10 November.
Both will cost £449.99 for the consoles but the two firms are also releasing digital editions that cost less.
The PS5 Digital Edition will come in at £349.99 whilst Xbox Series S, Microsoft’s equivalent, will cost less at £249.
The Digital Edition is fully digital and won’t be compatible with games that come on a disc.
In order to play games on the PS5 Digital Edition, you will have to download the games online and store them directly on your console. This is the same with the Microsoft Series S.
Those who want to break up the cost of the purchase can do so with the Xbox by paying £28.99 a month for the Xbox Series X that comes with the console and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Those who get digital version can pay £20.99 a month for 24 months for the new Xbox Series S that comes with the console and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Most retailers are already out of stock of the devices after a surge in people pre-ordering
Where can you purchase the consoles?
Whilst This is Money was unable to find anywhere that currently has the consoles in stock for pre-ordering, most retailers did say to check back as they should have more in stock soon.
Major stores stocking the consoles inclde: Amazon, Argos, Currys PC World, Game, John Lewis, Microsoft, Smyths Toys and Sony.
An Argos spokesperson said: ‘It’s clear customers can’t wait to get their hands on the new consoles. Pre-orders went live on our website last month and have now sold out.
‘We’re sorry for any disappointment this may cause and are encouraging customers to check back regularly for updates on more stock.’
Fans have taken to social media to share their frustration about not being able to pre-order the devices:
Comedian Chris Ramsey took to Twitter to say he was unable to find a pre-order link
Another user said they were still struggling to pre-order a PS5 in the UK
This Twitter user tried to find out where to pre-order the Xbox X series
The problem has been rumbling on in October with retailers struggling with demand
Is demand higher than usual?
Gaming has become even more prevalent since lockdown this year as people looked for new ways to entertain themselves at home.
However, gaming experts believe that the pre-order status is standard for Playstation and Xbox launches.
Seth Barton of MCV UK said: ‘This is all pretty typical for successful console launches. The console gaming market has grown steadily over the last seven years – since PS4 and Xbox One launched – so it was to be expected that demand was high.
‘The new consoles will be capable of playing most titles from the current ones, often at higher resolutions and frame rates, so there’s an immediate benefit to buying at launch, rather than being limited to a small number of launch titles as in previous generations.
‘I think the industry’s success in both increasing its market size and improving its hardware and software engineering are more a factor than the effects of the pandemic, though of course it’s hard to quantify that.’
As the consoles are both being released very close to Christmas time there will also be high demand for the devices as presents.
Those who have managed to get one may sell it on through resale sites, such as eBay at a higher mark-up thanks the supply and demand factor.
There has been some suggestion that both Sony and Microsoft may order less stock than needed to drive up demand and excitement.
However, gaming experts believe this is very unlikely.
Experts say that is not unexpected the devices are already selling out, as demand is higher
Barton of MCV UK added: ‘Both Sony and Microsoft are putting out cutting-edge devices using the very latest CPU and GPU technologies, manufacturing such chips is challenging, and the pandemic has likely had some effect on the supply chain of other components.
‘However, I believe that both would happily produce more consoles if they possibly could.
‘Selling out of consoles looks good, but selling more consoles, and therefore more games and more software, is the aim here. Creating artificial scarcity, and frustrating your fans, is unlikely to be the strategy.’
Christopher Dring of Gamesindustrybiz added: ‘This actually happens most console launches.
‘PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo have millions of fans who rush out during the first week or two to buy their latest products.
‘Between November 2013 and the end of the financial year in March 2014, PS4 sold 6million consoles. It was, at the time, the fastest selling games console ever.
‘These things sell in huge numbers at the start, and demand always outstrips supply, and records regularly get broken.
‘It’s exacerbated by the fact that gaming is a global pastime, with players connected all around the world, so these machines tend to launch in multiple countries at the same time. They do re-supply quickly.
‘Sony says that they are manufacturing more PlayStation 5 consoles for the launch window than they did PlayStation 4. But even with that, we should expect high prices on eBay for a while.
‘Although it’s not unheard of historically for games console makers to limit supply to raise demand, it actually doesn’t make much sense, certainly not when two machines are launching at the same time.
‘Sony and Microsoft are fierce competitors and they won’t want the other to get a head-start simply because they happened to make more machines.
‘Consoles themselves are often not profitable, with the profit coming from the sale of the software, so it’s important to get as many consoles into homes as quickly as possible. One of the big motivators behind which console to buy for consumers is what their friends are playing on.
‘Therefore, you want to get consoles out quickly and build up a lead, because then you get that spread effect.
‘In addition, there are naturally some distribution and manufacturing issues due to the pandemic. So it may well have been that Sony and Microsoft were hoping to manufacture and distribute more devices for launch, but simply haven’t been able to.’
Those desperate to get their hands on the devices could be left vulnerable to online scams
There is concern that due to the high demand, those desperate to get their hands on a device could be vulnerable to scams.
While many people have been able to successfully pre-order, those who haven’t may become increasingly desperate towards launch date and they could be taken advantage of by scammers.
It is likely fraudsters will claim they have already managed to purchase the devices and try and sell non-existent consoles to gamers.
Meanwhile, scam emails and text messages with dodgy links to places claiming to be selling the consoles are likely to also be rife.
Earlier this year, Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, warned the public to remain vigilant and take extra care online, 16,352 people fell victim to online shopping and auction fraud during the first part of lockdown.
A spokesperson for Action Fraud said: ‘Online shoppers have become a target for criminals to exploit at any given chance.
‘Where possible, use a secure payment method that offers buyer protection, such as PayPal or a credit card, if you have one.
‘We’d advise that you always do your research before handing over your money. Shop on websites you know and trust and always scrutinise reviews of the person or website you are buying from.
‘Be sure that the person or website you’re paying is legitimate and that the payment is for genuine goods or services. Taking a moment to stop and think could help protect you and your money.’
Beat the console scammers
To help shoppers avoid scammers, it has suggested some tips on how to ensure you don’t get scammed when online shopping this winter:
1. Keep your devices up to date: Make sure you install the latest software and app updates. These usually contain important security updates that can protect you against fraud and identity theft.
Information can easily be found about how to install these updates from Apple, Microsoft and Google. Even better, just turn on automatic updates so your device will update itself in future.
2. Secure your email account: Use a strong, separate password and two-factor authentication (2FA) to secure your email account. Criminals can use your email to access other online accounts, such as those you use for online shopping.
3. Take care with links in emails and texts: Some of the emails or texts you receive about amazing offers may contain links to fake websites, designed to steal your money and personal details.
Not all links are bad, but it’s good practice to check by typing the shop’s website address manually into the address bar of your browser, or find the website through your search engine.
It has advised that if you are have bought something that did not come as expected – or at all – report the fraud to Action Fraud.
Keep all evidence of the offence, including goods and correspondence.