By Sam Nussey
TOKYO (Reuters) – Sony Corp’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) console launched in core markets on Thursday to intense interest online, but with first day real-world sales limited to pre-order pick-ups.
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a boom in gaming demand, but Sony has made the launch sale online only to maintain social distancing, calling for consumers to “be safe, stay home, and place your order online.”
The next-generation console, which retails for $500, or $400 without a disk-drive, was sold out on major retailing sites in Japan and the United States, with some conducting lotteries to distribute limited stock.
On Japan’s top flea market platform from Mercari Inc consoles were selling for more than $900.
Major U.S. retailers Amazon.com, Best Buy Co Inc and Gamestop Corp appeared to be out of stock moments after the PS5 went on sale.
New York resident Anil Rivera, 45, lined up in front of a boarded-up GameStop store in Manhattan’s Union Square for about an hour before its opening, to pick up his pre-ordered PlayStation 5 console.
Rivera said he did not mind the wait or the rain, and was looking forward to experiencing the “big jump in technology” the new PlayStation offered.
Another diehard fan, Jessica Luto, arrived from the Bronx to collect her online order.
“I sat on this line for two hours to get my pre-order,” said Luto, who has owned every PlayStation console since the first.
Demand for the PS5, which offers cutting-edge graphics, faster load times, and a new controller with immersive feedback, has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which has seen consumers flock to gaming but has strained supply chains.
Analysts see shortages of consoles from Sony and rival Microsoft Corp, which launched Xbox devices on Tuesday, extending into 2021.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey; additional reporting by Kenneth Li in New York; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Diane Craft and Rosalba O’Brien)