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How to get a PlayStation 5 this holiday season

How to get a PlayStation 5 this holiday season

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Before you throw in the towel, check out a few pointers courtesy of The Verge’s deals team on how to bring home a PlayStation 5.

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A photo showing a front-on view of the disc-based Sony PlayStation 5 standing upright
Nearly two years later, Sony’s PlayStation 5 remains an elusive holiday gift.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

As Sony’s PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition near their second birthday, it seems that supplies of both next-gen consoles are finally catching up with demand (even with a new model reportedly on the way). Restock events are still the norm for snagging a console online, but things get a little more forgiving if you’re willing to visit a brick-and-mortar store, especially if you’re okay with paying a little more upfront for a bundle.

The PS5 is sure to remain a hot-ticket item for holiday shoppers, but we’re beginning to see online stock stick around for several days if not longer, giving would-be buyers a better chance at securing Sony’s next-gen console ahead of the holiday season. And although retailers haven’t announced any impending restock events for Black Friday or Cyber Monday yet, it would be surprising if we didn’t see at least one restock event occur over the course of the weeklong shopping holiday.

With a little patience, determination, and luck, you can still get a PS5 for the standard retail price instead of paying upwards of $600 to a reseller. Here, we’ve rounded up a few tips for purchasing a console both online and in-store, many of which are the same strategies we at The Verge employ to keep you in the loop on a regular basis.

How to buy a PlayStation 5

PlayStation 5 vs. PlayStation 5 Digital Edition

There are currently two iterations of the PS5: the PS5 ($499.99) and the PS5 Digital Edition ($399.99). There is very little difference between the two — the Digital Edition just lacks the ability to play disc-based games. Both models still feature the same 825GB SSD, CPU, and GPU. There are some more granular differences, like power draw, but there is very little separating the two consoles. Given that the Digital Edition lacks a disc drive, it’s a little smaller and lighter than the $499.99 model.

Where is the best place to buy a PS5?

Each retailer has a slightly different approach to how it handles restock events. Given the relative scarcity of Sony’s console, retailers have each adopted their own methods to circumvent bots and scalpers, which typically involve digitally queueing at a storefront and logging in with a specific account. If you check availability at a physical store in your area, however, you might have better luck, as in-store restocks often occur with little notice — that is, unless you’ve signed up for notifications from a service like GPU Drops.

Here, we’ve outlined how each major retailer handles console restocks, with some additional tips to help you with the ins and outs. In our experience, we typically see restocks from major retailers happen several times each month. These usually happen earlier in the day and rarely occur on the weekend. To help speed things up, we’ve also included a table that will take you directly to PS5 landing pages for each retailer.

Amazon

Illustration by Kristen Radtke

It seems that Amazon has finally gotten the memo, and has recently instituted a more orderly way to get your hands on the disc-based PS5. Instead of sitting on the product page waiting for restocks to happen like some kind of neanderthal, you can just go to the PS5 landing page on Amazon and request an invitation to purchase one — like, right now.

Once you’ve requested an invitation, you’ll receive a link as soon as a unit becomes available, allowing you to secure a purchase within 72 hours after which your console will go to the next lucky contestant. Invitations are limited to one per Amazon account, but you don’t need an Amazon Prime subscription in order to apply. While it isn’t totally clear how long you’ll have to wait after requesting an invitation to actually receive one, this process at least gives the impression of being a little more orderly, as prior restocks on Amazon were some of the most sporadic and unpredictable of all the major retailers.

GameStop

Gamestop is another solid option for snagging a PS5 that hosts restock in-person and online events. In-person events have occasionally been signaled in advance via the retailer’s newsletter, with consoles distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, GameStop has begun restricting in-store and online sales to subscribers of its PowerUp Rewards Pro program. The membership costs $14.99 a year and provides you with early access to select console drops, in addition to discounts, monthly rewards, and an annual Game Informer subscription. GameStop does occasionally open up restock events to non-subscribers, but the lion’s share is clearly intended for Rewards Pro members.

It’s also worth noting that Gamestop routinely sells the PS5 exclusively in bundles that include games, extra controllers, and even gift cards. These bundles cost about the same as if you’d purchased these items separately, but can raise the price to as much as $750.

Image of a PlayStation DualSense controller in front of an original PlayStation 5.

Best Buy

Best Buy logo laid over white and yellow tags.
Illustration by Kristen Radtke

Best Buy hasn’t advertised an in-person restock event for some time, meaning getting a PS5 from a brick-and-mortar location is done on a first-come, first-serve basis. That said, keeping tabs on the right Discord servers and even the Best Buy website can ensure you’re in the know when units become available. If you’re buying online, you may need to be a member of Best Buy Totaltech, a subscription “service” that grants you exclusive access to console restocks, discounts, two-day shipping, and a handful of other perks. A Totaltech membership costs $199.99 a year and is only available as an annual subscription. If you are a Totaltech member though, Best Buy does occasionally offer the courtesy of letting you know when restocks will happen ahead of time.

Thankfully, not all PS5 restock events at Best Buy require a Totaltech membership to access, nor are they all subject to Best Buy’s queue system. If a restock does happen to use the queue system, everyone gets funneled through the same queue, regardless of whether you’re a Totaltech member or not, and the process remains the same. Once you click the “Add to Cart” button, you’ll be placed in line with an estimated wait time. Theoretically, once the timer hits zero, you should be able to check out, but the entire process can be hit-or-miss in our experience.

Best Buy also tends to schedule its restocks in waves, so if you fail on your first attempt, it's certainly worth dusting yourself off for a second, third, or even fourth try. Typically, these waves come in 10-minute intervals.

Costco and Sam’s Club

Both of these big-box chains require a membership to take advantage of their restocks, whether in-store or online. If you aren’t a member yet, just note that an annual membership to Costco currently starts at $60, while Sam’s Club charges $45 for yearly access. Beyond being a member, there isn’t much else you need to do. Just keep in mind that Costco and Sam’s Club restock the PS5 less frequently than other big-name retailers and that they often bundle the console with items you may not necessarily need, thus increasing the price.

Target

The Target logo over a repeating pink and white bullseye illustration
Illustration by Kristen Radtke

There appears to be far less throttling or lining up at Target. Unfortunately, as a result, we’ve seen the lowest level of success with this particular retailer when we’ve attempted to check out. There is something of a silver lining, however. Because the process isn’t metered or moderated, you don’t need an account or subscription to check out.

The lack of any apparent queue system or wave-based restocks means that consoles at Target tend to sell out faster than they do through their competitors, but the retailer is always worth investigating considering there is no barrier for entry.

Sony

If you’re buying from Sony directly, you’ll need to pre-register for an invitation to purchase a PlayStation. This is the slowest method, but arguably one of the most reliable since you’ll be buying directly from the manufacturer. Once you’ve signed up, you just need to wait for an email from Sony, but there are no promises of when that could be. When you receive an email regarding an upcoming restock event, you’ll be provided with a time-sensitive link that allows you to check out with the system you pre-registered for.

Sony does occasionally have restocks available for those who haven’t pre-registered, so you should still keep an eye out. This method is similar to what other retailers are doing in that it will open a digital queue that will count down and, provided there are still units available, eventually take you to Sony’s checkout page.

Walmart

A stock photo of the Walmart logo
Illustration by Kristen Radtke

Walmart shares a similar stance with Best Buy in that you'll sometimes need to be a member of Walmart Plus to participate in some restock events. If you aren’t a Plus member yet, an annual membership costs $98, but a monthly subscription is also available for $12.95. Regardless of your membership status, however, the process remains the same.

Previously, clicking the “Add to cart” button at Walmart would place you in a virtual queue, but now adding a console to your cart does just that, after which you can head to checkout. Keep in mind that Walmart’s landing pages for the PS5 occasionally redirect to higher-priced third-party sellers but will be replaced with the first-party models when they become available.

A few essential tips to keep in mind

While we’ll always do our best to keep you informed of restock events when we receive advance notice or discover consoles available online, a handful of tips will help you improve your odds of securing a standard PS5 or the disc-less edition.

Sign up for retailer accounts

Our first recommendation is to create accounts with retailers like Sony, Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart. The digital queue that most retailers rely on to keep things somewhat organized will require you to have a login, and if you’ve set this up with the appropriate credentials, you’ll already be a step ahead of the person that foolishly didn’t.

... most retailers won’t hold your console while you’re in the checkout line

Setting up and verifying this information in advance will also allow you to automatically import your billing and delivery info during the checkout process, thus allowing you to save precious seconds. This is crucial given most retailers won’t hold your console while you’re in the checkout line.

Double down using the mobile app

If possible, we also recommend trying to buy a PS5 using retailer apps in addition to a desktop or mobile browser. Not only will this increase your chances by giving you a second means to procure a console, but we’ve found that dedicated apps for Best Buy, Walmart, and other retailers are often faster than a traditional browser.

Retailer apps

RetailerOperating System
AmazonAndroidiOS
Best BuyAndroidiOS
TargetAndroidiOS
WalmartAndroidiOS
GameStopAndroidiOS
CostcoAndroidiOS

Subscribe and follow

The next bit of advice we can offer is to set up alerts for yourself by following stock alert accounts on platforms like Twitter and Discord, as well as bookmarking sites that provide live updates for any retailer that's previously carried the console.

Twitter

Getting Twitter notifications is easy enough. Simply find the Twitter handle of one of the accounts below and give it a follow. Just make sure to turn on push notifications for the account if you aren’t obsessively checking your feed.

The accounts we recommend below are almost exclusively tied to restocks of the PS5. However, @Wario64 casts a much wider net, notifying you of solid deals and price breaks for a variety of products, including games, headsets, and action figures.

Matt Swider (@mattswider) is an established personality in the tech journalism space, but has pivoted to covering restocks of the PS5 and other high-demand items full-time.

Discord

If you’re unfamiliar, Discord is a platform that allows you to join community-driven chat servers. These servers closely resemble online forums but are better at communicating up-to-the-minute information. While they aren’t always super intuitive, most stock alert servers have done a decent job of automating the joining process for new members and signing up for the restock alerts of your choosing. All of the servers we recommend below offer alerts for the PS5 and the PS5 Digital Edition, but you can also subscribe to receive notifications for everything from a Meta Quest 2 to toilet paper (yes, really).

You can have these alerts delivered to your desktop as long as you have the app open or set up as push notifications on your phone if you download the Discord app.

Websites

The websites NowInStock and Stock Informer provide current stock and pricing updates from a variety of retailers. Not just for the PS5, but virtually any product you can find on the internet. You can use either site without an account, but you won’t be able to receive updates via email or pop-up notifications in your browser or on your phone unless you have one.

If you’re not opposed to visiting a local brick-and-mortar store, you can track the availability of the PS5 and other in-demand items at physical stores with real-time updates on the GPU Drops website. Much like other stock alert applications, GPU Drops allows you to filter updates based on the retailer and location; you can also set up desktop notifications through its Chrome extension and view availability-based maps for retailers such as Best Buy.

Opt for a bundle

Sony’s Horizon Forbidden West bundle packages a copy of the exclusive game with the disc-based version of the PS5.
Sony’s Horizon Forbidden West bundle packages a copy of the exclusive game with the disc-based version of the PS5.
Image: Sony

Many retailers have introduced high-priced console bundles that include the PS5 in addition to a handle of accessories. GameStop, for instance, often sells bundles that include extra controllers, games, and even gift cards. Bundles can vary in price, however, they often sell for as much as $750. While they cost more upfront, they’re not any more expensive than if you were to purchase the console and items separately.

If you’re looking for a bundle at a lower price point, Sony’s Horizon Forbidden West bundle is another option worth looking into. The bundle packages a copy of Horizon Forbidden West — an excellent PS5 exclusive that launched earlier this year — with the disc-based version of the PlayStation 5 for a total of $549.99. It still costs more than a standalone console, but it does save you $20 off the combined price of both items. Better yet, you can sign up for an invite to purchase one through Amazon in addition to the standard models.

Sony’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare II bundle is another option to score a game with your console purchase.
Sony’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare II bundle is another option to score a game with your console purchase.
Image: Sony

Sony also offers an exclusive Call of Duty Modern Warfare II bundle directly through the PlayStation storefront for $559.99. This bundle packages the standard, disc-based PS5 with a copy of the game. The current price only saves you $10 off the combined price of both items but serves as yet another option for anyone looking to score a console.

The added benefit of opting for a bundle with a higher price tag is that the bundles typically don’t sell out as quickly as standalone consoles. If you’re not opposed to spending a little more at checkout, bundles often make for a solid value and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Sit tight

Lastly, you just need a bit of patience. There's no set schedule of when restocks occur, but once you’ve set up the proper notifications, you'll have a good shot of landing yourself a console.

The last resort...

If you’re going to pay more than MSRP for a Playstation 5, there is always the option of purchasing one through reputable resellers like eBay and StockX. While we don’t recommend it, sites like these will at the very least provide you with a secure transaction and ensure that you get what you pay for.

Update November 2nd, 4:44PM ET: Article updated to reflect the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping holiday. We also removed a mention of Amazon’s Treasure Truck — which is no longer in operation — and added Sony’s Call of Duty bundle to the list of available options.

Update September 26th, 5:44PM ET: Article updated to reflect increased in-store availability and the fact many retailers have moved away from online queues.

Update July 26th, 3PM ET: Article updated to reflect increased in-store availability, as well as the introduction of Sony’s Horizon Forbidden West bundle.

Update June 7th, 1:43PM ET: Article updated with Amazon’s new invitation policy.