Almost two years after the launch of Sony's PlayStation 5, the gaming console remains extremely difficult to find in stock at any retailer. A global chip shortage impacting electronic manufacturers since 2020 and very high demand for the PS5 have again made the gaming console one of the holiday season's toughest items to find.
Thankfully, a new way to obtain a PS5 has emerged. This summer, Amazon started a PS5 invitation system that could make it easier to get your hands on the new console. It won't necessarily guarantee you a PS5, but it's worth signing up for.
There's always the tried-and-true method of keeping your eyes on stock at your favorite retailers, too, if you prefer buying from somewhere else or aren't selected as part of Amazon's new queue system. With awesome games like God of War: Ragnarök and the upcoming PSVR 2, it's a great time to snag the PS5.
CNET's Scott Stein recently went hands-on with the PSVR 2 and came away impressed. Wowed by the PSVR 2 headset's weight and its controllers' haptic feedback, Scott was enamored with his experience. Having tried out games like Horizon: Call of the Mountain and Resident Evil Village, he believes that the PSVR 2 could be a "destination for a whole new wave of more impressive VR games."
If you're one of the many hopeful PS5 buyers and would rather not wait for a surprise restock, your best option is to accept a higher price tag through StockX or eBay. Here are some of our tips, tricks and advice to help you snag your PS5:
- If you see someone offering to sell you a console on Twitter, it's almost certainly a scam. Avoid these people.
- Where applicable, use an app to complete a purchase instead of a browser. Not only are apps frequently faster than mobile browsers, but also it's easy to use an app and a browser at the same time if you're trying to buy on multiple computers.
- PS5 restocks are a lot more common in the afternoon and evening than in the morning. Chances of an unplanned restock tend to go up dramatically after 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET), so if you're wondering when to check, that's usually the best time to start.
- PS5 restocks almost never happen on weekends, unless they're announced ahead of time.
- If a restock starts and you immediately see "Out of Stock" on the screen, do not give up. Refresh the screen a few times and keep trying. Some retailers release the consoles in waves to keep bots from getting all of them.
- Have an account set up and logged in for any retailers you'll be shopping at. Speaking from personal experience, it's devastating to get a console in your cart and then miss out because you had to waste precious seconds entering payment and shipping info.
Since the PS5 and Xbox Series X launched, the biggest retailers have made changes to the checkout process to offer peace of mind and to keep bots from buying all the consoles and selling them for more elsewhere. As we mentioned earlier, one of those changes in the PS5 restock game has been paid access -- that means once you buy a subscription, you'll hear about the next PS5 restock either earlier than anyone else or exclusively for your club.
Our best tips to get a console
With this new subscription system rolling out across GameStop, Best Buy, Walmart and even Amazon in some cases, it's important to point out that getting a console through these services is still not guaranteed. The queue fills up fast, and consoles stay in stock for only a few minutes in most cases. Every time a PS5 restock happens, social media fills with people describing how they experienced glitches in the process and how the consoles ended up being gone entirely.
It's unreasonable to sign up and pay for every service, but that's where we can help. We're constantly tracking the best way for you to get your hands on a PS5. And we'll explain below what you can do to increase your odds before the buy button lights up.
Why is the PS5 so tough to find?
There are three big reasons why you're still struggling to get a PS5. The first is the most obvious: The system is really popular. Sony says the PS5 is its bestselling console and has already sold more than 20 million units since launch.
The second reason is the chip shortage that has affected most of the world's electronics since the beginning of the pandemic.
As for the last reason, it comes down to bots. Resellers are using software to purchase a massive number of PS5s at once, leaving only a few for actual humans to buy. Retailers added various bot protections during PS5 restocks, but these restrictions only hamper resellers so much.
Which early-access service should I pay for?
Lots of companies now limit access to a PS5 to a subscription, but each one is a little different. Here's the full breakdown of how each one works.
- Amazon Prime: This one is pretty straightforward. In many cases the only way to buy a PS5 from Amazon is by being a Prime subscriber or by signing up for the Treasure Truck text service. There's no extra fee outside of the standard Prime subscription, but you likely can't access the PS5 restock unless you're subscribed.
- GameStop PowerUp Rewards Pro: Many PS5 restocks from GameStop start an hour earlier for you if you have signed up for this rewards program. This works best when GameStop announces the restock ahead of time or emails its subscribers to let them know a restock is coming. This subscription service costs $15 per year, and includes a ton of extra perks.
- Walmart Plus: This service was built by Walmart just to offer early access during sales events, and that includes a PS5 restock. The rules for this early access vary; in some cases PS5 restocks can be entirely limited to subscribers or it can be an early-access window of one to four hours before the general population has access. Walmart charges $13 per month or $98 per year for this service. There's a 15-day free trial currently available if you're not sure it's for you, but you only get early access if you pay for that first month.
- Best Buy Totaltech: If you want special access to the Geek Squad for installations and tech support, as well as extensions on warranty purchases, this is the service for you. If you just want this for early access to a PS5 restock, Best Buy is asking you to pay $200 per year and that is a lot. Best Buy does occasionally limit access to a PS5 restock to only Totaltech subscribers, but most of the time those restocks are made available to the public later.
For the moment, the service that seems most useful to most people is Walmart Plus. There are more restocks at Walmart than most other places right now, and that subscription can increase your odds of getting a console dramatically. You're still going to have to be quick and accept that you may not get the console on the first try.
How do I increase my chances of getting a PS5?
Major retailers like Walmart, GameStop, Amazon, Target and Best Buy don't usually give much notice ahead of a restock. Sometimes they'll have a restock in the morning, other times in the afternoon and, in some cases, even in the middle of the night. Here are some tips to help you get the jump on the competition.
First tip: Don't wait until you see an alert for a PS5 inventory drop. Check the links at major retailers for stock updates daily or even multiple times a day. (We've got the links all lined up below.) If you do happen upon some PS5 availability, go all-in with as many browsers and devices as possible. On a desktop, for example, open the retailer's page in Chrome, Firefox and Edge. Then do the same on your phone and tablet. The more devices and browsers, the better. It's like with lottery tickets: The more you have, the better your chances of winning.
Second tip: Create accounts at the different retailers and make sure you're already logged in if you're going to try to get a PS5. Make sure all your shipping, bill and payment info is updated on whatever device you can buy from, whether it's a laptop, desktop or phone. This makes checking out a lot faster, which is crucial as retailers' sites get quickly bogged down, leading to people losing their chance of securing a PS5.
Third tip: Keep checking back with this post and follow CNET on Twitter for updates.
Where is it safe to buy a PS5 if I'm OK with paying extra?
If you're starting to crack and considering buying a PS5 right now (and we know that with the number of big PS5 games dropping over the next few months, the pressure is on), you can do so, but at the cost of a hefty markup on sites like eBay or StockX. On eBay, for example, we've seen PS5 units priced over $1,000, although prices have slowly made their way down to approximately $700.
Where to buy a PS5
The God of War: Ragnarök PS5 bundle is often available in both disk and digital-only versions at Walmart, but right now it's out of stock. The Horizon Forbidden West PS5 bundle is still in stock, as are standalone versions of the PlayStation 5 with disc drive or digital only.
You can find a PS5 restock at Best Buy more often than most places, though it occasionally requires a Totaltech subscription if you want to get in on one early.
You will usually find the standard edition is available more often than the digital edition at Target, but it's a solid place to check for stock.
Restocks happen fast at GameStop, and if you're a PowerUp Rewards Pro subscriber you can occasionally get access to the console an hour before everyone else.
Amazon has started a new invitation system where you can sign up and be a part of a PS5 queue. If selected, you'll receive an email to a buy link that's valid for 72 hours.
If you want to buy a console directly from Sony, click this link and register to be put in the waiting queue. When you get an email inviting you to buy the console, it's a fairly low-stress checkout followed by a one- or two-day wait for shipping.
PS5 restocks don't happen at Newegg that frequently, but they do happen and it's a great idea to check here because a lot of other people don't think to do so.
You won't be paying the standard price for your PS5 if you buy it from here (meaning you'll be paying much more), but you will certainly get it without much fighting to check out.
When all else fails, if you need the console right now regardless of price, the folks at StockX will at the very least protect you from being scammed by someone who never intended to give you a console.
More PlayStation 5 coverage
- Why You Should Save $100 and Get the All-Digital Version of the PS5
- 5 Fixes the PS5 Still Needs
- PS5 Games are $10 More Expensive. Is That Fair?
- How to Boost Your PS5 Storage Quickly and Easily With an M.2 Drive
- Best PlayStation Gaming Headset for 2022
- Best PSVR Games to Try On a PS5
- Sony's PlayStation VR 2 is Official: All the Specs Revealed