In just a few short days the next generation of gaming consoles will finally be upon us. As the launch of the PlayStation 4 swiftly approaches, some of you are calm, knowing that you have a pre-order in hand and can waltz into the store whenever you like (or wait at home if you ordered online). However, many of you are probably in a bit of an anxious panic, wondering when you should start lining up, where you'll get a console, and which stores will have the best stock. We're here to offer a bit of insight into when and where you can get a PlayStation 4 Thursday night and Friday morning. The lines will be rough, but there will be consoles in the wild.
Best Buy (US and Canada)
Best Buy is doing midnight launches at its US retail stores. Not all stores will be open for midnight launches, but you can find a list at the link above. In Canada, there won't be many midnight launches, but every store is guaranteed to have at least unreserved consoles. We don't have any numbers for US stores, but there will be unreserved consoles there as well.
The Canadian stores open at 8am, but if you want to get one of those unreserved consoles, you'll need to show up early on Thursday. Every store will be different, but the earlier you show up, the better your chances are. If you don't want to risk missing out, you may even want to show up early Thursday morning (a full 24 hours in advance).
Your best bet is to check with the Best Buy location and find out how early they're allowing people to line up. In many cases, they will be handing out numbered tickets, but it's possible stores will not allow a line to start until late Thursday. Don't waste your time, so make sure to call or visit the store of your choice before you finalize line party plans.
While most people assume GameStop has allocated its entire shipment of PlayStatoon 4 consoles to pre-orders, that's not the case at all. Sony has stated that the company would like for GameStop customers to have a chance at a console even if they didn't pre-order. To make this happen, each GameStop location will receive a small amount of consoles in addition to their pre-order allocation. Don't expect more than 10 consoles in most cases, so if you want to get a PS4, you absolutely need to arrive early.
As always, call or head down to the closest midnight release location and talk to the sales associates. Many have stated their intent is to hand out numbers for the unreserved consoles. The earlier to arrive, the better chance you'll have at getting one of the select few consoles.
Sony Stores (Sony Style)
There aren't many Sony Stores in the US, but if you live near one, there's a good chance that will be your best place to nab a console at launch. While no official numbers have been revealed, Sony has confirmed that every store will have unreserved consoles for the general public. Given the small number of Sony Stores and the fact that they're more notable for general electronics instead of gaming, the Sony Store is a better fit for more hardcore gamers compared to Wal-Mart of Target.
Most Wal-Mart stores are open 24 hours a day, but that's where the average consumer (not the hardcore gamer) will be hoping to score a console. With layaway offered on the console until December 13, it's the ideal place for people hoping to get a console for Christmas. If you have any hope of landing a console at Wal-Mart, you will absolutely need to check with store employees to find out when you can lineup. Thursday morning will probably be too late to find a console at most high-profile stores.
As of this writing, no Target stores will be open at midnight for the launch of the PlayStation 4. However, Target is offering a buy two, get one free deal of PS4 games, so it's likely there will be a significant line on Friday morning. Stores will open at 8am, but you can believe people will be lined up by Thursday evening, or even earlier. While not quite as mainstream as Wal-Mart, Target has been known to have consoles at launch, and people will be hoping they can arrive later (since there's no midnight launch) and still score a console. Combine that line of thinking with the free game promotion, and there will be high demand for PS4 consoles at Target.
The PlayStation 4 launches on November 15th. Good luck!