Games retailers have been overwhelmed by demand for PlayStation’s latest console, which launched in the UK on Thursday.
Web pages dedicated to the launch of the PlayStation 5 at John Lewis, Tesco and Game had all crashed on Thursday morning. Currys had introduced a queuing system that had tens of thousands of customers on hold on Thursday morning.
With much of their stock already sold via orders placed before the launch, Game, Currys, John Lewis and Argos all said they had sold out of the £449 console by 10.10am on Thursday.
However, thousands of consoles were available on auction site eBay for more than double the list price, with some sellers asking for more than £1,000.
John Lewis said: “There have been extremely high levels of demand for our website this morning and we are experiencing some technical issues. Our teams are working hard to get the site running smoothly again as soon as possible. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused.”
Gaming fans posted angry messages on Currys’ Twitter feed after the company first said it would launch the PlayStation 5 at 9am, then moved it to 11am and then admitted it had sold out. “We know that this is disappointing news, and we are working super hard to get more stock,” the company said.
Some shoppers claimed they had been able to make an order before 9am through a loophole in the system only for it to be cancelled later. When the Guardian checked Currys’ queue at 10am, the website was already saying it was out of stock.
“So you had none to give today at all!! Or you sold them in the middle of the night!! What a shambles,” tweeted one shopper.
“Just spent 2 hours trying to hold a place in the queue and you do this,” said another.
Game’s official Twitter feed put out a message at about 11.20am that said its 9am launch was “on hold”.
One gaming fan tweeted: “Not happy to be waiting in a 50min queue, to then be advised I’m being redirected to the main website, to then being told this page has timed out. And now this.”
Game said some deliveries of the console could be delayed because of nationwide “delivery challenges” caused by the launch.
In an email to customers, Game said the courier firm Yodel had warned that “capacity issues” meant that some machines order before the launch would not arrive until Friday.
Numerous shoppers complained via Game’s social media channels that they had paid extra for guaranteed morning delivery of a PlayStation 5 on launch day but the console appeared to have been lost or delayed en route.
“Why did I pay for [courier firm] DPD before 12 pm on release day delivery to be stuck with Yodel who are reporting lots of packages as ‘missing’. Such a joke,” one shopper wrote.
“Paid £12 extra for Guaranteed DPD pre-10am delivery. Now sat staring out the window at 11:25am waiting for you or my downgraded Yodel delivery to let me know what’s going on. Really angry,” said another.
Yodel said it was “deeply disappointing” to be blamed from the problems.
It said it did not work directly for Game but for GFS, a logistics business, which supplied the retailer. “We have been consistently clear on the order volumes we are able to carry for them and it is deeply disappointing that Yodel’s name has been incorrectly used in an email to customers on the status of orders. There are currently no delays within our network, and any issues regarding delivery capacity is a matter for GFS and not Yodel,” the company said.
It said timely delivery of the parcels was its “utmost priority”.
Game said in its email to customers: “Due to the volume of PlayStation 5s in the UK market and the size of the product, the launch has led to UK-wide delivery challenges for all retailers and couriers.
“Our aim has always been to ensure that as many orders arrive on time for release day as possible, therefore we have had to secure multiple couriers to help try to achieve this.”
The PS5 problems come as gaming kits are expected to be a popular purchase in the run-up to Christmas as families look for new ways to entertain themselves during a less sociable festive season than usual.
Many retailers have also sold out of the new Xbox Series X console which launched last week.