Two of the biggest tech products of the year have become quite hard to get your hands on. The Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X, the two new major video game consoles from Sony and Microsoft, have been plagued by supply issues dating all the way back to September when pre-orders first opened up online, and it’s only gotten worse as the consoles have officially been released for sale.
Released earlier this month, the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X both cost a hefty $500, with smaller models ringing in at $399 and $299 respectively. The base model is a hefty ask in a year when many have lost jobs, turned to gig work and struggle to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic. In fact, before the systems were revealed earlier this year, there were rumblings that the two companies could delay the new consoles into next year, given that a number of games originally planned to launch with the new machines had themselves been delayed. But here they are, and if you want to get your hands on one of the two consoles right now, you’ll have to dish out more — a lot more.
Price gougers have descended upon the shortage of consoles and are selling the new consoles on Ebay at incredible markups. A look through the website’s sold item history for the two machines shows that scalpers are listing the consoles for anywhere from $650 to well into the thousands, and people are buying them.
The Playstation 5 is the followup to Sony’s Playstation 4, which sold over 113 million units since its 2013 release and was the most popular console of the last generation, and customers have been unable to get their hands on the console as easily as they did with the previous one. Perhaps because of its predecessor’s popularity, scalpers are selling the Playstation 5 at a considerably higher price than they are the Xbox Series X.
On average, the Playstation 5s sold on Ebay yesterday alone average at around $900 to $1,000, with some stretching well into the $2000 range and beyond. By comparison, prices for the Xbox Series X, the followup to the much less popular Xbox One, seem to hover lower, at around $600 up to the thousands. While the average prices may be a sign that one machine is in higher demand than the other, there are some notable outliers of particularly brazen scalpers; CBS found one Playstation 5 listed on Ebay for a shocking $32,000.
Game consoles have been especially vulnerable to price gouging for the duration of the pandemic. Early on, as people first began to isolate, the Nintendo Switch saw a huge increase in demand, which attracted its own slew of price gougers. We reported in the spring that Amazon was struggling to manage the rampant scalping happening on their platform, where Switches were selling for over $200 above MSRP as Nintendo struggled to keep up with demand.
The limited supply likely isn’t a PR stunt to drive up discussion of the consoles; Jim Ryan, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s CEO, said in an interview with TASS that the Playstation 5 is utterly sold out. “Everything is sold,” he said. “Absolutely everything is sold.” Ryan went on to say that they spent a great deal of time trying to prepare supply in advance, and that he is spending even more time on it now. Back in the spring when a Switch was impossible to get your hands on, Nintendo vowed to address supply issues and increase manufacturing despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic.
In fact, it may be 2017’s Nintendo Switch, not the new Xbox or Playstation, that ends up being the most successful console of the 2020 holiday season by pure fact that you can actually get a Switch at MSRP without dealing with an Ebay scalper who wants to sell you the console at a 200% markup. With the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X utterly sold out, and with supply issues stemming back to pre-order dates, it may be a long while before Sony and Microsoft have their new, expensive machines sitting comfortably in homes across the world.