Why PS5’s Online-Only Launch Day Plans Are a Good Thing

Safety is the paramount concern

Key Takeaways

  • Online-only PS5 launch day orders will likely remove the long lines that new console releases typically see.
  • Removing in-store orders shows that Sony is taking the Covid-19 pandemic seriously.
  • While fans aren’t happy, experts believe the online-only change is the best move Sony could make right now.
The Sony PS5

Sony’s plans to have PlayStation 5 launch day orders online only have caused quite a bit of uproar in the community, but experts believe it’s the best move to help minimize the spread of Covid-19.

Sony recently announced plans to offer online-only launch day purchases for the hotly-anticipated PlayStation 5 in a post on the PlayStation Blog. The announcement immediately caused quite a bit of backlash in the comments, with some fans even taking to Twitter to share their disgust over the decision. Twitter users like @Mfant13 responded to the original tweet about the launch day plans with concerns about availability.

"In years past, PlayStation fans eager to nab the newest iteration of the console on release date have camped outside retailers by the thousands," Dr. Jeff Toll, an expert on COVID-19, wrote to us via email. 

Differing Opinions

Dr. Toll referenced an article from Market Watch detailing the long lines that we saw back in 2013 when the PlayStation 4 released, something he believes we would have seen again with the PS5. Long in-person lines don’t match up with social distancing.

Not everyone feels the same as he does, though. In fact, many consumers have posted responses to Sony’s original announcement about the launch-day plans on both Twitter and on the official blog post.

On the official announcement post users like neostorm1369theg wrote, "I will not be buying a PS5 because of this decision. It’s the last straw for me." Another user named bosslap wrote, "Sony! This is the stupidest move ever. We know how to be safe and do not need our hands held to purchase a freaking console."

Other PlayStation fans defended the move, like DemonBlueWolf, who wrote, "It sucks for those who like in-person interactions, however this is an amazing and safe decision!" The community itself might be divided on how it feels about the move, but medical professionals like Toll see it as the smartest step that Sony could have taken with the PS5’s release.

"With healthcare professionals already overwhelmed by the increased number of hospitalizations, Sony’s decision to prevent the guaranteed mass gatherings of thousands matters immensely," Toll told us. 

Avoiding Scalpers

Covid-19 concerns aside, many users are worried about scalpers and bots buying up all the PS5s as they become available on launch day. This sentiment was mirrored many times throughout the responses on the original announcement blog.

Bots and scalpers were a huge problem back in September when PlayStation 5 pre-orders went live, with the official PlayStation Twitter even commenting on how messy the pre-orders were handled. Some PS5 pre-orders can still be found on websites like Ebay, selling for upwards of $700 or more per console.

While the responsibility to stop bots from buying all the inventory does technically fall on the third-party retailers like Best Buy and Gamestop, Sony is taking quite a bit of the backlash for how sales have been handled so far. To be able to take that heat and still make the decision to maintain safety guidelines and help minimize social gatherings is what Toll calls a "heartening decision" and proof that the company is taking the pandemic seriously.

Every Step Matters

Despite the concerns that consumers might have about online-only launch day orders, Toll believes that the move signifies how seriously the company takes the COVID-19 pandemic. With the United States having recently reported over 10 million cases of the virus, it’s important for everybody to do their part in helping to minimize the virus' spread. Even with recent news about Covid-19 vaccines, the threat is still very real, and consumers should do everything that they can to help out where possible.

"The move to online-only purchases on release day is a wisely proactive move from Sony that will not only protect the health and safety of their fans, but also the essential store workers who would have been exposed to hundreds of more customers than normal in a single day," Toll wrote. 

Despite not offering in-store purchases, though, many stores will still allow consumers to pick their consoles up by coming to the store. Many, like Target, will only offer pickup in the store, or through drive up orders, as detailed on the AskTarget Twitter account.

It might not remove the store element completely, but experts believe it will at least help minimize the spread of the virus by removing the long lines of people waiting to order the PlayStation 5.

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