How to find a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X — even with a massive chip shortage

Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
·4 min read

Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox Series X are incredibly difficult to find, thanks to pent-up demand for the next-generation consoles and a global semiconductor shortage spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

But you can take steps to improve your chances of snagging one of these coveted consoles including tracking retailers’ supplies, setting up user profiles for those retailers’ websites, and following stock trackers.

The most important thing, though, may be to keep a cool head, and get ready to smash that buy button at a moment’s notice.

Visit retailers and sign up for alerts

The best place to look for a PS5 or Xbox Series X is going to be the retailers where you normally shop — whether that’s Walmart.com, Amazon.com, Target.com, or GameStop.com. But there are some you might not think to check. Sony and Microsoft sell their systems directly through their respective websites, making them attractive prospects for grabbing one of their consoles. And niche sites like Newegg.com also offer systems when available.

The question is, how do you know when those sites will have consoles in stock? It’s not like you can sit in front of your computer or hold your phone all day refreshing website after website. I mean, you could, but I don’t recommend it.

Living room with Microsoft Xbox Series X (L) and Sony PlayStation 5 home video game consoles alongside a television and soundbar, taken on November 3, 2020. (Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Living room with Microsoft Xbox Series X (L) and Sony PlayStation 5 home video game consoles alongside a television and soundbar, taken on November 3, 2020. (Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Instead, you can set up product alerts on those sites, and get notifications when your console of choice is in stock. It’s a better use of your time, and gives you the opportunity to find out when you should jump online and buy.

Follow stock tracking accounts on social media

I’ve been tracking PS5 availability “for a friend” since the console launched in November, and have found social media alerts to be among the most helpful means of getting updates on stock.

A number of Twitter accounts provide you with that latest information on console availability at a moment’s notice. Some of the top are Sony’s @PlayStation account and Microsoft’s @Xbox account, as well as a number of third-party trackers including @PS5StockAlerts and @XboxStockAlerts.

But you’re going to need to be prepared to jump on an available console right away. To that end...

Make sure you’re ready to buy when you go to the site

When you’re getting ready to score a new console, you’re not only trying to muscle your way past other shoppers eager to get their hands on the latest system — you’re also battling bots built to vacuum up consoles so that resellers can hawk them online at jacked up prices. Right now, you can hop on eBay and find a $499 PS5 selling for a ridiculous $1,399. Others can be found for anywhere between $580 to $1,000.

To make sure you’re able to beat out your online competition, create a user account for the websites you’re most likely to shop through. This way, when a console is available, you don’t have to worry about entering your user information or location, and can quickly log in and buy the system you’ve been pining for.

There’s also the added benefit of not having to enter your credit card information, which is a huge pain anyway.

Avoid resellers

I know you’re dying to get your hands on a PS5 or Series X, but resellers out there are scooping up consoles and raising their prices to the tune of hundreds of dollars. It’s certainly not worth paying a massive premium for consoles that are already costly enough, especially when there aren’t any super must-have games you can only get on them yet.

Paying resellers just encourages them to go out and grab more consoles, perpetuating the cycle of stock limitations. In short, just wait. You’ll either be able to score a console before they’re readily available, or get to buy one in the second half of the year, as the shortage in processors eases, and more systems hit the market.

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Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com over via encrypted mail at danielphowley@protonmail.com, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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