Walmart ditches plans for in-store PlayStation 5 pre-orders [Update]

Yesterday, Sony revealed pricing and release date information for the PlayStation 5, and with that announcement, a number of different retailers either opened up pre-orders or announced when customers would be able to place one. Walmart was one of those retailers, confirming that gamers would be able to pre-order a PlayStation 5 in-store beginning on September 22nd. Today, however, Walmart has walked back that announcement, saying that it won't be offering in-store pre-orders at all.

"Due to the incredible interest we received from the online pre-order, Walmart has decided not to proceed with the planned store pre-order to control store traffic and keep our customers safe and socially distanced," a Walmart representative said in a statement to SlashGear. "Customers can still get the console on November 12 when it's released."

Walmart's decision is probably for the best here, as the United States is still very much in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Opening your doors to what's likely to be droves of people looking to pre-order a PlayStation 5 as soon as possible is inviting the spread of the virus, particularly in areas where mask usage is low.

Even without in-store pre-orders, we can likely expect large groups of people at Walmart stores on November 12th, the day the PlayStation 5 releases. In fact, it's likely that stores will be packed that entire week, as the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will be releasing on November 10th, just two days before the PlayStation 5.

Speaking of the Xbox Series X/S, it's unclear if this decision not to hold in-store pre-orders applies to Microsoft's next-gen consoles as well, but it's safe to assume that it does. In any case, we've reached out to Walmart for clarification on the matter, and we'll update this article when we hear back.

In the lead up to Sony's big showcase yesterday, we heard rumors claiming that Sony had to decrease the number of consoles in its initial production run because of issues with SoC yields – a rumor that Sony later denied. The PlayStation 5 will be launching in two variants, with a standard model that includes a disc drive running $499.99 – the same price as the Xbox Series X – and a Digital Edition that lacks the disc drive for $399.99.

Update: A Walmart representative has confirmed that, for now, the plan to halt in-store pre-orders only applies to PlayStation 5, but told us they'll share more about Xbox Series X/S when official word comes down the pipeline.