PS5 launch day: for many fans in lockdown, the game isn't on writes Will Guyatt

19 November 2020, 13:04 | Updated: 19 November 2020, 15:00

The Playstation 5 went on sale in the UK today
The Playstation 5 went on sale in the UK today. Picture: PA

By Will Guyatt, technology correspondent

For many PlayStation fans, the game isn’t on.

The eagerly-awaited Sony PlayStation 5 launch is the latest in a long line of headaches for consumers and the world of online retail – as social media audibly wheezes under the weight of disgruntled gamers who have been told their games console is delayed, or that retailers with ‘launch stock’ simply can’t keep up with demand.

If, like my good friend Nick Ferrari, you think gamers in 2020 still spend most of their time in a darkened back bedroom of their parent’s house, you need to think again.

Globally – the games market counts over 3bn players – and here in the UK, estimates suggest around 32 million Brits are regular players.

The UK video games market is worth over £6bn, and many of the world’s most successful games studios develop new releases here. Games are very much here to stay.

As I write, tens of thousands of people are eagerly waiting for a knock at the frontd oor or a text to confirm their brand-new PlayStation 5 has been delivered – for many gamers, the new console will be the purchase that carries them through the next five or more year of gaming – the last release, helpfully titled the PlayStation 4, first hit markets in 2013 – and it’s starting to show its age, when compared to more powerful platforms, like the games PC.

For those gamers – it’s all about a chance to play new games with more realistic, verging on lifelike graphics, enhanced sound and even faster loading times than ever before, thanks to the inclusion of solid-state drives.

One of the big titles this Christmas for Sony is Spiderman: Miles Morales – an update on a very successful PS4 title, which looks every bit the perfect showcase on an Ultra HDTV.

Today – a variety of online retailers including John Lewis, Tesco and Amazon are making PlayStation 5’s available on launch day, so those who didn’t pre-order as far back as September don’t feel left out – but one look online shows you that gamers are left disappointed as John Lewis cryptically suggested a ‘mid-morning’ launch, while Currys were left to tweet that unprecedented demand left them delaying their release – despite their website reporting up to 25,000 people in a queue at various points through the morning.

Many of those who thought their PlayStation 5 was guaranteed for day-one delivery have been disappointed too, the High Street retailer GAME warned some customers that due to issues with its courier, Yodel – some consoles would be delayed.

Very late Wednesday night (as reported by Video Games Chronicle - the courier company angrily struck back saying it had been “consistently clear.”

Has lockdown made the games industry even bigger than ever before? Some of the initial numbers borne out of the Covember Lockdown indicate that sales of games are up year-on-year, even at a time of higher sales for the festive season.

Alongside Netflix – looks like even more of us are picking up the controller for the first time, or maybe getting a console for our families for the first time.

One day I’ll get Nick Ferrari to have a game of Call of Duty with me – I reckon he’ll love it.

Will Guyatt is LBC’s Technology Correspondent. He is currently hosting Get Set Go – a series of podcasts for parents buying a console and games for their family this Christmas, funded by the games industry body, UKIE.