It’s no surprise that both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S preorder launches were disastrous. There was a divide on the internet: those agonizing over bots and refresh buttons, and those who didn’t even bother because it’s all too expensive. And while this sounds like it could be any console launch, it wasn’t–because we are in a pandemic.
Both the high-end PS5 and Series X consoles cost $499.99, but only the latter currently has flexible payment options. GameStop is working on three different payment options, which include layaway and monthly payments. Adding onto that, the return of Microsoft’s economical All Access plan allows customers to choose a next-generation Xbox console of their choice bundled with Game Pass Ultimate for a monthly payment over 24 months. This service allows members cross-platform access to a library containing over 100 games, with some even playable on their respective launch days. Between GameStop’s payment installation plan and Microsoft’s bundle, it’s a wonder that these payment plans weren’t implemented earlier.
Why is this a big deal? Putting it simply: COVID-19 has dealt a massive blow to the world in every sense, and not everyone can front money for a next-gen console. With massive layoffs, reduced salaries, and overall tense economic conditions, the justification for dropping half a thousand dollars in one go isn’t just anxiety-inducing–it can be downright terrifying. According to USA Today, roughly 833,000 more Americans filed for unemployment in just the last week of August alone, bumping the total number of people filing for some form of government benefits up to 29.6 million. Depending on your financial situation, a $500 expense could make or break your month. And that’s in addition to the fact that $70 games could become the standard price point for PS5 and Series X games.