One thing is virtually certain: there will be more people that want a PS5 pre-order than the pre-orders available. This is true of virtually every console launch, and there’s no reason to assume it won’t be this time around: it’s the main idea behind PS5’s pre-pre order page, where you can register with your PSN and throw your name in the ring for being among the first to get a “pre-order reservation”. There will be competition, and Sony knows it. It raises the question of who, exactly, will get these pre-order reservation, and the answer to that question might actually be much more interesting than it seems at first glance.
On the first page, the company seems to offer a more traditional view of who is going to get to buy these consoles:
“Pre-order reservations will be taken on a first-come-first-serve basis, so once you get an invite via email, we encourage you to follow instructions and act fast.”
If you read through to the FAQs, however, Sony offers a different interpretation of who gets a console:
This is actually a fantastically interesting little sentence, especially how it’s empowered both by Sony selling PS5s direct from its own store and by the level of information gathering enabled by always-online consoles, digital storefronts and trophies. Remember, you are signing up with your PSN, so Sony has complete access to everything you’ve done and bought on your PlayStation. And the ramifications of how it could use that information to dole out pre-order reservations are fascinating, in a dystopian sort of way.
From the outside, I would venture to guess that Sony would like to make as much money as possible here, which is of course, shocking. But it would, theoretically, have tools available in order to try to let people likely to spend more money on their new console. It could look at total number of games installed, number of months subscribed to PS+, total amount of money spent on add-ons, anything. Investors and analysts are interested in the attach rate for consoles: how many games the average console owner buys. Theoretically, Sony could try to maximize the attach rate by sending pre-order invitations to people most likely to buy more games.
The company could go more granular if it wanted to. For example, the first major games coming out appear to be Spider Man: Miles Morales, Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart, followed by Horizon: Forbidden West. Could Sony prioritize pre-orders based on who has extensive experience with those franchises, the bet being that they want to not only maximize sales, but maximize sales of those games specifically?
Or maybe it could prioritize digital customers, more likely to buy games directly from Sony and bypass retailers like GameStop of Best Buy. It could split the difference between the two, and estimate exactly how many dollars a given customer has delivered to Sony over the course of their PSN career.
I recently got the platinum trophy in Bloodborne. Could Sony prioritize those who have seen the terrible truth, those who have gained eyes on the inside and found sight through madness? I hope so.
It is a corporate dystopian vision come to life, an example of the ways your data can be used in ways beyond delivering ads. The end result here, I’d argue, is pretty benign: Sony will try to get people that played PS4 a lot to be the first to get a PS5. But it’s also not hard to be a little suspect about the sorts of data collection and vertical integration on display here.
I’m a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New Republic, IGN.com, Wired and more. I cover social games, video games,
I’m a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New Republic, IGN.com, Wired and more. I cover social games, video games, technology and that whole gray area that happens when technology and consumers collide. Google
World news – US – The PS5 Pre-Order System Is Actually Revolutionary, And A Little Scary