How to Get Your Hands on a PS5 or Xbox Series X This Holiday Season
It has been over two years since Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X game consoles hit the market, and both remain difficult to find. A mixture of worldwide health events and the global chip shortage has made it more challenging than usual for both companies to produce enough consoles to meet demand.
But we are here to help out and ensure all the good children this year (and, of course, adults) get a chance to play their favorite games. Here’s our guide on how to buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X/S game console this holiday season.
What Are the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X?
If you’re a video gamer, you probably know the answer to this question. But if you’re purchasing a game console for another person, you may need some help. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are the latest gaming consoles from Sony and Microsoft, respectively.
The PlayStation 5 is the follow-up to Sony’s PlayStation 4, while Microsoft’s Xbox Series X is the follow-up to the Xbox One. It is important to note that Microsoft also sells the Xbox Series S as an alternative to the Series X.
Sony has two PlayStation 5 models, one that contains a disc drive and one that does not, forcing games to be purchased via the company’s PlayStation Store. Both models are known as PlayStation 5, but the latter is known as the digital edition. There are no other differences between the two models of PS5.
Microsoft took a similar approach but used two distinctive names for its consoles. The Xbox One Series X is the more expensive model and includes a disc drive and is capable of 4K gaming. The Xbox Series S (aka its digital edition) is a more affordable model without a disc drive and is capable of 1080p full HD gaming.
Should I Buy a PS5 or an Xbox?
The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S are excellent gaming consoles, and we are sure you’ll have tons of fun with either option. Beyond pricing and availability, the ecosystem is the main factor to consider when selecting a console.
For the most part, Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 play the same games, but each console has its exclusives (games not available on other consoles). Xbox offers titles such as Forza, Halo and Fable, while PS5 offers Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Ratchet & Clank and the Horizon series.
Traditionally, PlayStation keeps more exclusive games to itself. Both consoles have exclusives, but if you invest in one system and hope to play the most games, your best bet is to go with the PlayStation 5.
You also want to consider what kind of console most of your friends play. If you wish to game online and play with friends, you will need the same console in most circumstances.
This note on social play is why buying an Xbox for your child who wants a PlayStation might not be a great idea. Purchasing the wrong console can lock your child, or yourself, out of social interaction if everyone you want to play with has a different console.
In the end, research the games available for each system, and check with your friends to see which console might be best. If your child wants a game console, ask them which kind their friends have so that they can stay connected and social while gaming.
Where to Buy PS5 (PlayStation 5)
The usual suspects for finding a PlayStation 5 this holiday season include Amazon, GameStop, Best Buy and Walmart. You can visit retail stores in person or check their websites for stock, but either is a game of luck.
Amazon is a strong contender for finding a PlayStation 5 this season as it allows shoppers to sign up via an invitation-based system. Think of the system as a way to reserve a spot in line without worrying about scalpers buying up every console.
If an invite isn’t available for a specific console variation, check out some other options, such as the digital edition. PS5 bundles are less likely to sell out as quickly since they force you to purchase a collection of accessories with the console (such as the Horizon Forbidden West bundle), but they could be worth the cost.
Purchasing from Sony is also a great way to grab a PlayStation 5. The company also uses a queue system to ensure scalpers don’t take over the market.
If you plan on purchasing a PS5 from major retailers such as GameStop, Best Buy or Walmart, consider joining their shopper membership programs. These retailers tend to give their members first dibs on restocking any new console.
We also recommend using a website such as NowInStock.net to monitor the availability status of PS5 units (disc and digital editions) at various retail stores. You can set up browser alerts so you are notified as soon as restock events occur.
Where to Buy Xbox Series X/S
Finding and purchasing an Xbox Series X or S is less of a herculean adventure than what PlayStation 5 owners have had to go through. While both consoles are excellent options, the PlayStation 5 has appeared to be more in demand than its Microsoft competitor.
We have less advice to give you when it comes to Microsoft’s Xbox simply because it is easier to find, which is a good thing for consumers. If you opt to go the Amazon route, you can request a spot in line via a reservation system for the Series X.
If you wish to purchase directly from Microsoft, you can do so via the company’s online store. The Microsoft Store currently offers the Xbox Series X in bundles packed with an extra wireless controller or as a refurbished console.
If you decide to purchase an Xbox Series X from a major retailer, such as GameStop, Best Buy or Walmart, the same rules apply as with the PlayStation. Restocks at the aforementioned retailers will first go to shoppers who are part of retail membership programs.
If you are wondering why we haven’t mentioned the Xbox Series S, it’s simply because that game console hasn’t been hard to track down. Now that Xbox consoles are more plentiful, most gamers are opting for the full-priced 4K disc-based system.
If you’re seeking an Xbox Series S, visit the website of your favorite electronics retailer — Amazon, Microsoft, GameStop, Best Buy and Walmart — and you should be able to find one without much issue.
If you are hunting down a hard-to-find Xbox Series X, we recommend you use a website such as NowInStock.net to monitor the availability of Xbox units at various retail stores. Set up alerts to be notified when any restock events occur.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
You can purchase a PS5 in stores, but you’ll likely have a hard time finding one. As the PS5 has continued to sell out quickly since the console launched, we recommend that you take advantage of Sony’s website or retailer websites to help you track down a new PlayStation 5 (disc or digital edition).
Video game consoles are typically difficult to purchase upon launch, but we are still seeing sparse inventory two years later with the PS5. A lack of inventory is likely due to a combination of the chip shortage and recent worldwide health events.
Michael Archambault is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.