PS5 sale in Tokyo turns into riot: ‘I’ve never seen that kind of insanity before’

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 02 February 2021 17:55 GMT
Chaos in Tokyo as shoppers riot to get PS5
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The rush to get hold of a PlayStation 5 led a Japanese shop to turn into a riot.

The chaos came as fans still struggle to get hold of the console, months after it was first released.

Anyone who has been hunting for a PlayStation 5 is used to a frenzy. The new consoles go out of stock almost as soon as they go on sale, with a rush of people coming to any possible opportunity to get hold of one.

But – as a result of lockdowns and other issues – most of that frenzy has been online. There have been few places where it has been possible and safe to offer the console in-person, but the scenes in Japan offer a look at how they might look, and what the flurry of interest in any online listing might look like in real life.

Japan has distributed its PlayStation 5s somewhat differently to other countries: customers are asked to enter online lotteries, and those who are chosen are given the option to purchase one. But the huge demand and the limited number of consoles that have been prevalent since it was launched in November have meant those lotteries seem nearly impossible to win.

Some shops, however, have looked to sell the console in physical stores, even as Tokyo is under a state of emergency and like the rest of the world people are asked only to go outside if they really need to. Those physical sales have become similarly popular, with fans searching constantly for shops that might be receiving stock – and any that are being instantly inundated.

Since then, a small community of people has arisen, sharing information on Twitter accounts and even tracking patterns of deliveries using shared spreadsheets, in an attempt to arrive at any stores in time to take advantage of the limited number of consoles.

That is what happened over the weekend, when a shop in Tokyo was rumoured to be preparing to sell the console. That led numerous people – seemingly including resellers, who arrive early to buy the console and then sell it on at a higher price on the grey market – to arrive at the store.

As those rumours increased, "hundreds and hundreds" of people arrived at the store, according to game designer Dave Gibson, who shared videos of the frenzy on Twitter. “I've never seen that kind of insanity in Japan before," he wrote alongside the posts.

The excitement appeared to have been prompted by the arrival of staff in a queue that suggested a sale might begin, Mr Gibson told The Independent. One staff member was seeing holding a sign used to indicate the back of the queue, which was enough to push the mass of people to believe that a sale could be beginning.

“They were knocking over displays and climbing over things,” he said. “I’ve never seen people behave like that.”

Staff attempted to dispel the chaos by announcing that no consoles were being sold, he said. But previous sales have seen staff deny that there would be any new stock arriving right until it did – meaning that many people continued to wait in hope that a console would arrive.

Those people did not leave until police were spotted at the store, he said.

In recent days, many of the Twitter accounts and other online tools set up to track what they refer to as “guerrilla sales” have said they will stop tracking them, Mr Gibson told The Independent. The interest has become so high that posting about them “is actually useless”, they noted, since they will have sold out before anyone is able to get there.

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