After the not so smooth launch of the PlayStation 5 preorders and the pretty horrific release of the Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics cards, it was all on Microsoft’s shoulders to reignite consumers’ faith in companies getting preorders right. Based on what we’ve seen from others, and my personal experience, it seems everything went relatively hiccup-free in some parts of the world, with others experiencing yet another preorder nightmare.
With obvious learnings from the PS5 preorder debacle, Microsoft chose (and rightly so) to inform the public when all the links were going live directly from themselves and from third-party retailers, in an effort to give people more of a chance to actually pick up the console of their choice. Yes, Nvidia also did this with their RTX 3080 launch and that was a complete mess, so, again, it didn’t prevent scalpers from securing a few consoles to ultimately sell on at a premium but, it certainly gave the public more of an opportunity than those surprised by the PS5 links going live at random times. Moreover, Microsoft set concrete rules for third-party retailers stating that if they broke the embargo time, they would be punished with a reduced supply of consoles, again, giving customers absolute certainty of timings thus being able to prepare.
Being based in the UK, the preorders for both the Xbox Series X and S went live at 8AM BST and everything went as expected, websites started to slow with crashes on retailers such as GAME and Argos when customers tried to checkout. But, there’s one big difference between this preorder experience and that of the PS5 and RTX 3080, the number of people who came away, including myself, with a successful preorder was staggering. Social networking sites were full of praise in the main, especially for retailer Currys in which implemented a queuing system similar to that of ticket selling sites so you could see what position you’re in and to prevent the website going down under intense stress.
There were some positive aspects shown in parts of the US preorder launch that went live at 8AM PT, with thousands of successful purchases via Best Buy and Gamestop, mirroring that of the UK earlier in the day. However, the big misplay was thanks to Amazon where the Xbox Series X link to buy the console seemed to not show at all for the majority of prospective buyers and only available for under a minute for others. The Series S was even more elusive, seemingly not going live on the site at all, leaving the whole of the US dumbfounded as to if it actually exists…
There was also a huge misfire in Australia and more specifically, from retailer EB Games in which also tried to implement a queuing system like UK-based Currys but their website crashed, resulting in a complete reset of the queue, leaving those who were waiting, flailing to get back onto the site as soon as possible. They also sold out within 15 minutes, with many units subsequently being listed on eBay for double the retail price, suggesting that bots and scalpers won on this occasion.
All in all, Microsoft seemed to do a solid job coordinating their Xbox Series X and S preorders in the UK and it was certainly a better experience all round in comparison to that of the PS5 and RTX 3080 graphics card. Maybe that was down to the rules and preorder time announcements but it also could’ve been influenced by the amount of stock manufactured. But, with the US having a much larger market and essentially the main retailer not giving consumers the chance to actually buy the console(s), it was a flop in the main. There were opportunities to buy the consoles at places like Walmart, Best Buy, and Gamestop but these were few and far between, probably due to the Amazon issue. Furthermore, scalpers were still able to secure many units and instantly inflate the price on auction sites. It’s incredibly hard to stop these kinds of people who have about ten devices on the go, all on different retailer sites but there surely must be some kind of IP-related tech to try and knock these people a little.
Essentially, in our eyes, Microsoft definitely seemed more prepared for the whole process and gave those wanting to secure their new console more of a chance overall. However, it was the retailers that really let the consumers down, especially Amazon who essentially left everyone in the dark as to if and when the links would be going live, probably leaving thousands bitterly disappointed.
This begs the question of will Nvidia sort out their process in time for the imminent release of the RTX 3090 and 3070 graphics cards? And will retailers be briefed and have the preparations to cope with demand this time around? Only time will tell.
How was your experience? Did you manage to secure your preorder of the Xbox Series X or Series S? Or did you miss out thanks to third-party retailers not having the capacity to cope? Let us know in the comments below.