Before I knew it would be nearly impossible to secure one this year, I had little interest in the PS5 or Xbox Series X|S. As a PC owner—one who exclusively plays games on a TV using a controller—I’m grasping at straws trying to find reasons to get excited about another large box taking up space in my entertainment center. It’s hard to muster up the hype for faster storage and raytracing when my gaming rig already has both. And while Microsoft has made clear it doesn’t care what hardware you’re playing on anymore as long as you’re signed up for Game Pass, Sony has only recently started dabbling in PC versions of its first-party would-be exclusives.
So maybe I buy the PS5 for Spider-Man: Miles Morales and, uhhh, Sackboy: A Big Adventure??? (No I will not play the Soulsborne game.)
But then, it dawned on me, I have a PS4 Pro and Xbox One X that would be rendered obsolete by the purchase of a PS5. Not only is Sony’s latest backward compatible with the “overwhelming majority” of PS4 games, but it also, finally supports 4K Blu-ray discs, the sole reason I was still tethered to an Xbox. Much too late to the game for pre-orders, much too unlucky to refresh a Walmart landing page at just the right moment, much too dumb to program a bot to do it for me, I was at a loss for what to do. My instinctual reaction was to contact my mom, who—to this day—badgers me on an annual basis for my Santa list, despite my being 24 years old. However, using my baby-like brain, I was able to convince both my parents to go on Amazon and even the egregious Walmart website at specific times throughout the day to help me bag a PS5 in time for December 25. Suffice to say, we failed.
With nowhere left to turn, I’m tempted to, well, just buy the damn thing on StockX. I mean, at this point, are any of us really banking on Walmart’s claim they’ll be in stock tomorrow or, hell, next Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving? I’m not. What else are people doing with their time that day? Save for those of us who work in commerce or retail, most people will hopefully get some time off, either to spend with family in person (not recommended) or virtually over Zoom. And at 7 PM sharp, Walmart’s shoddy servers will be even more overloaded than they were last week, when I was greeted with 404 errors and “better luck next time!” messages every 3 hours ad infinitum. A percentage of those fortunate enough to check out will then take their purchases to StockX where I may very well end up dragging my feet to procure a PS5 at a 70% markup.
It didn’t have to be this way. Whether because of COVID slowing down manufacturing, artificial scarcity, or more than likely some combination of the two, I’m reminded of the year 2006. I was standing outside a GameStop with my dad breathing smokeless fumes in the bitter cold air, to buy a Nintendo Wii. It was a fruitless effort, considering how late we were to the party, not to mention how many lines those at the front had presumably stood in prior to this one. Prematurely exhausted, we threw in the towel after one go. Fearing I’d miss out on that new console smell, while all my friends were in their rooms playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl, I crossed the Wii off my list and swapped in the Xbox 360, a console widely available at just about every retailer since it had released a year prior.
This year, sadly, there’s nothing to swap in. At this point, the Xbox Series X and S are equally impossible to find and I already have a Switch and Switch Lite. I guess I could upgrade my graphic car—ah, well, nevertheless!
To tell you the truth, I still don’t even know if I want a PS5. Like a fool, I bought a PS4 at launch in 2013 and played about an hour of Knack before listing it on Amazon Marketplace. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag remains one of the most innovative entries in the franchise, but it ran at more than twice the frame rate on PC. The PS4 launch was the only time a Killzone game was the best in a lineup of anything. The PS5 looks to be no different. At a glance, the only new game I’m interested in playing that’s actually out is Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Sure, down the line, there’s Horizon: Forbidden West, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, and Gran Turismo 7, which all appear to be exemplary showcases of the PS5's strength, but honestly, here and now, I just want something to look forward to in a year that—let’s face it—sucks major ass.
When desperate times call for desperate measures, look no further than the price gougers of StockX, a destination which, ethical concerns around scalping aside, does promise 100% authenticity from every product listed in the marketplace. So there’s that.