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Police were called to a popular Tokyo department store on Saturday after the intended sale of new PlayStation 5 consoles descended into chaos.
Yodobashi Camera in Tokyo’s Akihabara shopping district had promised to sell several hundred PlayStation 5 consoles via a first-come, first-served policy. However, according to personal accounts on social media, the whole process was cancelled after hundreds of consumers swamped the store.
As shown in multiple social media videos, huge crowds formed inside Yodobashi as staff planned to handout numbered tickets for the PS5 consoles. The situation appeared to be fairly calm until staff began distributing the tickets, causing the crowds to begin pushing, shoving and shouting.
UPDATE 02/02: The Yodobashi store has banned all PS5 sales to people suspected of being scalpers, following the chaotic scenes.
ORIGINAL STORY CONTINUES: “They cancelled the sale due to people being insane,” wrote Creatures Inc’s Dave Gibson, who was at the store. “[They] pushed so hard even the cash registers and staff went backwards. I’ve never seen that kind of insanity in japan before…”
He added: “People paying at the registers were pushed out of the way. Cash left on trays. Registers and staff pushed all the way back into storage area.”
Tokyo is currently under a State of Emergency due to a resurgence of coronavirus infections in the city. As part of the order, companies are encouraged to work remotely and residents urged to avoid non-essential outings.
PlayStation 5 at retail
As noted by PSU, Saturday’s event was likely popular due to its first come, first serve policy, which is unusual for PS5 sales. To date, most Japanese retailers have been running lotteries for their PS5 stock, which is thought to be more fair considering the huge demand for consoles.
The Yodobashi retailer also usually requires customers to have active credit accounts in order to purchase in-demand items such as PS5. However, the Akihabara location is one of a few stores that do not.
With this context taken into consideration, Saturday’s PS5 sale likely would’ve been attractive to both consumers and also re-sellers looking to sell the consoles on for profit.
Gibson wrote: “I would estimate about 70% of that crowd to be resellers. Hope to god I didn’t get corona because I got caught up in that insanity.”
A report recently suggested that re-seller targeting of PS5 consoles is so high that the long-term health of PlayStation 5 in Japan could be under threat.
Like many other regions, PS5 shortages in Japan have been exacerbated by scalpers reselling large quantities of the console at significant mark-ups, keeping it out of the hands of consumers and in turn damaging pivotal software sales.
The knock-on effect is an unusually low software attach rate in Japan, reports Bloomberg. As noted by the publication, a healthy ratio for a new console is around one game sold for each console bought.
But based on Japanese sales data from Famitsu, as of mid-December Sony had sold around 213,000 PS5 consoles in the product’s first month of availability and just 63,000 physical games.
There are other factors that could be impacting early physical PS5 software sales, most notably the shift to digital. PS5 also comes pre-installed with a game, Astro’s Playroom, and is backwards compatible with PS4 titles.
“Even if we consider digital download software purchases, the percentage of sold PlayStation 5s actually in use is not that high, meaning the current demand is constrained by profit-taking resellers,” according to Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute.
Another analyst told Bloomberg that consumers’ inability to acquire the console and the resulting hit on software sales could negatively impact the profitability of the PlayStation business over the coming years.
Bloomberg even claims that a major Japanese publisher has internally discussed the possibility of delaying its PS5 games based on concerns it has about the early market response to the console.