Walmart’s idea for building excitement around its limited inventory of Sony’s next-generation PlayStation 5 game consoles on launch day came to a quick, crashing halt—twice—as its site buckled under a crush of would-be orders.
For the sake of pandemic safety, Sony opted to avoid the in-store crush of its usual console launches in favor of online pre-orders that began months ago for in-person pickup. But Walmart decided to re-create some of the drama of traditional in-store launches by making limited inventory available during four time slots Thursday. The apparent effort to build site traffic was a little too successful, at least during the first two waves of the sale.
At noon and 3 p.m. EST, many people trying to place orders were greeted with various error messages. Walmart.com put up an “Oh deer” page with a photo of a dog wearing reindeer antlers, asking people to try coming back to complete their orders. When they did, many who thought they’d added $499 PS5 consoles to their carts were displeased to find the consoles weren’t there or were listed as “out of stock.” Many turned to Twitter or other social forums to complain.