Pre-Ordering a Next-Gen Console Was the Only Time Living in a Rural Area Helped Me

I could not have foreseen the struggle of trying to pre-order online.

As I type this, Xbox Series X/S pre-orders have gone live and the internet is aflame as it runs into an assortment of error messages, automatically refreshing webpages that say explicitly not to refresh them, and just generally not having a good time.

That’s not to say that the PlayStation 5 pre-orders were any better. Sony’s system went up for pre-order minutes after it concluded its release date and price announcement on a stream without any official word. For anyone buying online, this was its own nightmare, and was even stranger considering Sony was saying that pre-orders would go live the following day as the system was being made available at several retailers. This was such a disaster that Sony had to apologize, as well as explain that more systems would be available between the PS5’s November 12 release date and the end of the year. Even so, some pre-orders that did go through were either cancelled, or followed up with an email that said they might not be arriving on launch day. So it’s just a mess all around.

Will Microsoft have to apologize like Sony did? Probably wouldn’t hurt at this point. But as I watch the chaos unfold online, I’m feeling especially grateful for my living in Bumfuck Nowhere, Georgia, because it’s probably the only reason I secured a PlayStation 5 pre-order without any inkling of the anguish I would later see on my social feed.

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See, I live in a town so far and removed from things like this that if a local place is going to have something and I’m on top of it, I can be among the first people to get something that’s going to be in limited supply. Once I finished writing up the news about Sony’s presentation last week, I called my local GameStop to ask if they would have in-store PlayStation 5 pre-orders available the next day, as I generally have opted for pre-ordering consoles on location so I can pick them up at midnight and avoid any shipping related snafus. The employee on the other line laughed and told me that pre-orders had gone up in their system minutes before I called. I grabbed my mask and drove about 15 minutes to the store, and to my surprise, there weren’t that many people there at all. Not that I expected a crowd of people, especially not with a pandemic happening, but I was surprised that it was just me and one other person coming in to throw down half a grand. I walked in, paid for the system, copies of Demon’s Souls and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and then left. It was painless.

Immediately following this, I opened up Twitter on my phone and saw the internet being on fire, and it was like watching games Twitter lose its mind in real time.

Generally, living in a rural area has been terrible for my game consumption. I have to drive towns over to get anything even slightly obscure, download speeds are so atrocious that going all-digital isn’t viable for me, and a lot of this has been exacerbated by the pandemic and how I literally have to risk my life to go buy a copy of the latest hotness. But this time? This one, singular situation? It was good. Thank you Bumfuck Nowhere, Georgia, and thank you to your relatively unplugged population who did not stand in my way of doing my part as a consumer and spending irresponsible amounts of money to be gaming on day one.