What just happened? Microsoft started taking pre-orders for the Xbox Series X|S late Tuesday morning, and like Sony, most retailers depleted their initial allotments within hours. Unlike Sony, stores did wait until Microsoft gave them the green light, but users still struggled to get orders placed in time.
Part of the problem was that Microsoft let users know precisely when pre-orders would go live. Customers anxious to get the next-gen console ended up bottlenecking purchasing pages triggering DDoS countermeasures. In other instances, stores tried to reduce server load by asking users to wait in line.
App developer Zach Gage discovered that GameStop's queue was nothing more than a trick to make users wait indefinitely.
"Wow, this Xbox pre-order situation is such a mess that GameStop is literally just trying to defend its own servers by claiming you're in a queue and 'Please don't refresh or you will lose your spot," Gage tweeted.
hahaha wow this xbox preorder situation is such a mess that gamestop is literally just trying to defend it’s own servers by claiming you’re in a queue and please don’t refresh or you’ll lose your spot (but look at the page source). pic.twitter.com/ertXzBIeyd— Zach Gage (@helvetica) September 22, 2020
He posted a screenshot of the source code, showing that the page was merely looped to refresh itself every 30 seconds. He didn't even think to check that until he had been waiting 30 minutes.
Polygon noted that even Amazon's Xbox pages were bogged down and would not load. Walmart, Target, and Best Buy customers experienced similar problems.
As of this writing, Amazon's purchase page gives you an access denied error then quickly redirects to Microsoft's full-page ad for the Xbox Series X. GameStop's does the same thing but sends you to a store page of related products. Walmart only has an option to get an "in-stock" alert.
Best Buy lists the Series X as "Coming Soon," and appears to have the Series S in stock. However, clicking the purchase button brings up the following message:
"Due to high demand, this item hasn't been added to your cart. Please wait a few minutes before trying again."
I gave up after five "few minutes" of trying.
The only site that seemed to still have consoles in stock was Newegg. However, checking back just before publishing this article showed it has run out as well.
And yes. Scalpers have already taken to eBay where they are asking over $1,000 for XBSX pre-orders.
Fortunately, there have been no whispers of an Xbox Series X shortage, like there have been with the PlayStation 5. So stores should soon have new allotments. Just keep your eyes on all the usual outlets and grab one fast.