How to avoid PS5 and Xbox Series X preorder FOMO

Commentary: If you didn't catch the blink-and-you-missed-it preorders, don't worry, you're really not losing out on all that much.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
3 min read

No, these are just mockups. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Update, Nov. 6: Read our reviews of the Xbox Series XXbox Series S and PS5.

PlayStation 5 preorders were a trash fire, with Sony even taking to Twitter to apologize for the mad rush that left most potential buyers empty-handed. Xbox Series X and Series S preorders were slightly better, if only because they started at the announced time -- though Microsoft's consoles sold out in minutes as well.

Every new console launch is plagued by limited supply, broken websites, slow e-commerce transactions and shady profiteers reselling preorders on eBay. Why do we even bother? It's probably the lure of being the first grup on the block with something shiny and new. I totally get it. I was hitting the refresh button along with everyone else. 

But if you didn't manage to snag a PS5 or XSX preorder, I'm here to tell you not to dwell on that new-console FOMO -- you're really not missing out on much by not having a Day 1 new Xbox or PlayStation. Having covered every console launch since the Sega Dreamcast, I can assure you there's a lot to be said for waiting until the dust settles.

Here's why you don't need to suffer from new-console preorder envy:

Almost every big holiday-season game will be available on the PS4 and Xbox One. Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War; Watch Dogs : Legion; Star Wars: Squadrons; Assassin's Creed: Valhalla; Cyberpunk 2077 ; Spider-Man: Miles Morales -- they're all coming to current consoles , and often PCs. Most of these games were developed with current-gen consoles in mind, so based on past experience, the "next-gen" versions aren't going to offer much more, especially as something like the Xbox One X already does amazing 4K/HDR output. 

There aren't many Day 1 killer apps. Halo on the original Xbox. Wii Sports on the Nintendo Wii. SSX on the PS2 . Those are games that make you want to stand in a long line outside a retail store for a launch day console. We call them killer apps, because they're the software that actively drives hardware sales. The PS5 lineup for Nov. 12 looks a little thin right now, especially if you exclude games also available on the PS4. There's a Demon's Souls remake, the built-in Astro's Playroom and a few others. The Xbox Series X Day 1 lineup is similarly uninspiring, unless you're dying to play The Falconeer.  

New consoles inevitably have launch window bugs and breakdowns. Console launches happen only once every six or seven years, but those initial days have historically been filled with connectivity issues, software bugs, hardware failures and other early adopter problems. It seems inconceivable now, but almost the entire first wave of Xbox 360 consoles eventually suffered catastrophic hardware failure. Early Xbox One systems had optical drive issues, and the PS4 had dead console launch issues as well. 

Especially since the launch game lineup isn't all that compelling (barring any late additions), you might as well hold off until some of the early kinks get worked out. And if your current console is starting to show its age, we've got plenty of tips on how to extend the life of your PS4 or Xbox One

Console launch shortages are historically a short-lived phenomenon, and plenty of these new boxes will eventually be available for anyone who wants one. So skip the FOMO and don't blame yourself for not hitting F5 fast enough to snag a preorder. Unless you actually snagged a preorder, in which case, I am kinda jealous.