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PS5 restock ruined by bots in less than a minute

PS5 restock
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The PS5 sold out in (what is likely) record time, and prospective buyers are furiously blaming bots.

It all started at 10:53 a.m. ET today (Thursday, February 4), when the Atlanta-based Antonline tweeted news of available PS5 stock. Their digital-only console bundle, with a PS5 camera, a second controller and one year each of PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, seemed to be available.

But then, it wasn't. It appears that in less than a minute, Antonline's supply got squashed.

User @threephaze posted a screenshot from 10:54 a.m., which seems to distill this entire problem down to a single photo. (This particular photo screams a thousand likely censored words.) The console was both sold out and in stock. But as we all know, that usually just means "better luck next time."

At 10:55 a.m., two minutes after the original tweet, Twitter user @strongratz declared the entire PS5 stock was "Gone in less than 10 seconds... wow!" This user had the typical story: They saw a PS5 in their cart, but it was gone before they could complete the purchase.

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At 10:55 a.m., @BubbaMcZ shared the story of his instant loss, saying "Got in it the cart, did the payment info, then it was sold out."

Not everybody was up Ant's creek. One Will Wright, aka @yung_smook, shared what appear to be legit results of purchased consoles.

Annoyingly, the replies to Antonline's post are filled with signs of people who cheated the system. Take, for example, two users whose usernames are a first name followed by 8 digits: @Frank81510817 and @Christo83885251. Both claimed to have made successful orders.

The Frank account is suspicious, because it has no posts of its own — just replies to the Antonline announcement. As for Christo, aka "Christopher Corcoran," that account was made just this month (February 2021), and its only tweets are replies and retweets to PS5 stock announcements and giveaways.

Neither user attached a receipt proving their claim. Frank merely attached a screenshot of a successful Antonline order from today at 11:03 a.m.. This is not necessarily to claim that they're lying or fakes, but it's hard to give a lot of trust to a user account with no photo and such a weird username. We would not be shocked to learn that these are bot-related purchases.

That is a short digest of why people are so upset with the scarcity and fast sales of PS5 restocks. Even buyers who jump on the sale the moment it goes online can fail, much like someone trying to buy Beyoncé tickets online for any of her instant sellout tours. 

The PS5 hit virtual shelves months ago, and for it to still be this difficult to buy is maddening. We've got some advice, though, that might help. Tom's Guide editor Roland Moore-Colyer wrote about the console restock disaster, telling shoppers "No, you still don't need to buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X," and to "just stop, really." 

We've said time and time again that there just aren't very many PS5 exclusives yet. This makes the act of buying a PS5 more of a win for beating the system than earning a console that's worth the effort for its own sake.

Henry T. Casey

Henry is an editor writer at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and Apple. Prior to joining Tom's Guide — where he's the self-described Rare Oreo Expert — he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. You can find him at your local pro wrestling events, and looking for the headphone adapter that he unplugged from his iPhone.