Key TakeawaysThe continuing shortage of the latest gaming consoles means users have to get creative to get their hands on one.Users are traveling long distances and turning to Twitter feeds, scalpers, and auction sites to find items in stock.If you're desperate to get your hands on a console immediately, you might have to pay a markup. Microsoft
Buying a next-generation gaming console takes more than cash these days.
Shortages of Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Sony's Playstation 5 means gamers must go to extreme lengths to get their hands on the latest devices. Users are traveling long distances and turning to Twitter feeds, scalpers, and auction sites to find items in stock.
"Because scalpers are using bots to buy up all the stock in seconds, regular people are paying double, and sometimes even triple, the cost of a PS5 just to get their hands on one," Rex Freiberger, CEO of Gadget Review, said in an email interview. "Right now, you can sign up for every notification, put one into your cart as soon as you get the alert, and have it disappear by the time you complete checkout."
Long-Distance Travel to Nab a Console?
Josh Chambers, an editor for the site HowToGame, has heard of people travelling cross-country to get their hands on a new console, as well as paying a premium.
"It seems like those who want a new console on launch are willing to pay double or even triple the retail price of the consoles, especially true with the still scarce PS5," he said in an email interview. Chambers got his own Xbox Series X on launch thanks to having a game plan, but he says it's only because he was prepared.
"I had browser tabs open on various retailers such as Amazon, and refreshed these constantly when launch times came into effect."
Consoles are hard to get due to a mix of under-production and scalpers, Freiberger said. "Resellers are using bots to buy up tens of thousands of dollars worth of units to sell for a markup," he added.
Christopher J. Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University, knows first-hand how hard it is to get a new console. He's been trying to get a PS5 for his research lab.
"Normally, we send a requisition through and the university will order one," he said in an email interview. "That's not possible right now. So we're having to figure out if the university [is] ok with ordering a pricey one via eBay, or reimbursing me if I stand outside a Target at 5 a.m. one morning to get one the second it hits the shelves. I didn't order one right away, figuring there'd be some backlog, but it's amazing how long this shortage has lasted."
Tips to Score a Console
You'll need a mix of luck, strategy, and persistence to buy a console, experts say.
"Right now, you basically just have to turn on notifications, have everything ready to check out (so keep a payment profile and shipping info saved), and hope you can click the button fast enough," Freiberger said.
"It seems like those who want a new console on launch are willing to pay double or even triple the retail price of the consoles."
If you're desperate to get your hands on a console as soon as possible, you might have to pay a markup. Devin Pickell, a gaming writer and long-time Xbox owner, recommends the resale site StockX.
"That's how I got mine at only $100 more than resale value," he said in an email interview. "It is dubbed the ‘stock market of things.' There, you can negotiate pricing for your new console and monitor pricing charts to see when an item is hot versus cold. StockX verifies each purchase and handles the process with ease. I recommend this over eBay or other sites where the person selling you the console has minimal liability."
Ferguson said he hasn't been able to find a "magic answer" to getting a console.
"The two easy solutions are to suck up the higher prices on an auction site where the higher prices will push down demand," he said. "Or get to know someone who works at a Target, GameStop or Best Buy, who can tell you when to wait outside a store in the morning to be the first one to pluck one off the shelves."