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UK retailers struggled to cope with the huge demand for PlayStation 5 consoles on Thursday.
A week after its North American release, PS5 finally launched in Europe today, with many retailers promising to sell a limited number of consoles on release day.
However, due to Covid-19 lockdown measures, customers haven’t been able to purchase consoles inside physical stores and obtaining a PS5 online has proved incredibly difficult for those without a pre-order.
The websites for Tesco and John Lewis crashed shortly after making new PlayStation 5 stock available this morning, with the latter briefly uploading a holding page warning customers of increased strain on its website caused by the launch.
Meanwhile, the website for retailer Game was forced to introduce a queuing system, with waits of more than an hour at the time of publishing this story.
Retailer Curry’s also implemented a queuing system when its console went on sale this morning, which at one point resulted in more than 200,000 users flooding its website.
Currys had been due to make PS5 stock available from 9am, but after many customers discovered they we able to order the console before this time, the retailer delayed and then eventually cancelled its sales entirely.
“We know that this is disappointing news, and we are working super hard to get more stock,” it said. “Please check our social channels for further updates on availability.”
John Lewis said in a statement provided to the FT that it had received plenty of PS5 stock “but as anticipated, the PS5 console has been incredibly popular with very large numbers of customers seeking to buy it and it sold out quickly”.
UK pre-order customers also faced potential disappointment on release day, with retailer Game contacting those who had ordered a PS5 to warn them that their consoles might not arrive on release day as planned.
In an email sent to customers on Wednesday, Game had claimed that some PS5 pre-order customers might not receive their console on Thursday because delivery firm Yodel had informed it of last-minute capacity issues.
However, in a statement issued to VGC, Yodel disputed the suggestion it had informed Game of logistical issues at the last minute and claimed that it had been “consistently clear” with the retailer on its order volumes.
A spokesperson for the company said it was “deeply disappointing” that its name had been “incorrectly used” in an email sent to Game customers and insisted there were no delays within its network.
Another retailer, Argos, also contacted some customers previously promised release day delivery to notify them of shipping delays, e-mails seen by VGC indicate.
UK retailers are expected to receive further PS5 stock from Sony next week, according to an internal email from a major retailer forwarded to VGC.
Prior to launch, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said PS5 demand “has been very considerable”, with the company taking as many pre-orders in the first 12 hours in the US as it did in the first 12 weeks for PS4.
Ryan said Sony was “working as hard as we ever can” to meet demand before adding, in something of an understatement: “it may well be that not everybody who wants to buy a PS5 on launch day will be able to find one.”