Both next-generation consoles, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X, have had their own pre-order disasters. Even when it comes to PC hardware, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series cards are no different. All of them have one thing in common: they’re the hottest new toy in town. The next generation toy that’s so good as to invalidate what came before. Which spiked the number of people who want them the very moment they become available.
And during a time when people spend more time at home than ever before, it’s pretty obvious why people are so hyped over these new pieces of tech. Which also makes them the new juicy target for scalpers.
The companies behind them have promised to make more of them available as time passes. Whether or not that’s really the case, it’s beyond our control as consumers. But what is in our control is our desire for these things. And the less we desire them, the less we’ll feel hurt when pre-orders get sold out. Even if all are swiped by scalpers re-selling them for three times their original prices .
Even if for slightly different reasons, we can take one lesson that we’ve learned when dealing with video game software, and apply them to hardware. And it’s to never pre-order at all.
For the customer, the idea of pre-orders used to be a simple one: reserving for yourself an upcoming popular thing that would otherwise be sold out when released. It was also supposed to help manufacturers to gauge interest in an item. And if it was popular, it would’ve been a sign so that more of it can be made to meet the demand.
Clearly, that’s not the case anymore. Pre-orders, the thing invented so you don’t have to deal with the problem known as “sold out”, is itself now susceptible to being sold out.
For the brands though, it’s entirely possible that they are trying their best to meet pre-order demands. But with the whole pandemic going on, it’s difficult to deny the plausibility of parts shortage, leading to lower production.
But on the flip side, it’s entirely possible that the shortage is an intentional one. After all, nothing feeds the consumer FOMO (feeling of missing out) like an item being so popular that it’s not only sold out, but the solution to the “sold out” problem is itself sold out. Which will keep the interest for the item alive for a lot longer than it normally would.
As video games have taught us, the gamble of jumping onto the hypetrain is almost never in the customer’s favour. I get that pre-orders can sort of serve as you showing your support to the makers of something you like. But there’s a difference between supporting them and going out of your way to inconvenience yourself just to show support.
If you still need to know why pre-ordering is a bad idea, just ask those who did it for Anthem or Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. Better yet, since it’s hardware, look at the situation with the custom RTX 3080 cards with their capacitor and crashing issues.
Besides, none of these are exactly what you’d call affordable. Which should, in its own way, serve as deterrents to pre-ordering. Or outright make the idea inapplicable to us to begin with.
So, with all the scare that’s going on with the shortage of next-gen consoles and graphics cards, there’s really no need to get them immediately. For the the PS4, now’s a good time to start playing all the PlayStation Plus games you’ve been claiming. The PS5 supply situation will likely have calmed down by the time you’re done. And who knows, you may be able to get them at a discount when that happens too. The PS5 games that you want to play may inexplicably find themselves on PC too.
As for PC gamers, you’ve survived this long with your graphics card, so the need to upgrade to an RTX 30 series card shouldn’t be too great. And if you really wanted the cards, it could take awhile before the shortage issue is remedied. But with the RTX 3060 and RTX 3070 coming, it will probably make better sense to wait for these cards instead.