Lots of Australians were able to get a PS5 yesterday, but many more were not. And with any piece of consumer tech that’s super popular, there are always going to be scalpers — and sadly, there will also be those who simply cannot miss out.
As people started finally picking up their PS5 next-gen consoles for the first time, user marketplaces and auction sites in Australia got a glut of new listings for the new console. But it’s one thing to list a console for double its RRP — it’s another for people to actually pay it.
This is pretty bad especially when you consider there are barely any next-gen games. The console’s not worth this much! But there are understandably people who feel like they don’t have any other option, parents who just want to make their kids happy, and for them the extra premium is, somehow, justifiable.
But then you get into some of the other listings that have sold and … things are just getting way out of hand.
That’s ridiculous. This is a console that cost $749 at retail. But then you have instances where people are bidding literally thousands of dollars.
And it’s not as if the listing prices (although there are plenty of scalpers doing that) started out that badly. Multiple PS5 listings that I’ve reviewed this morning all started with relatively low list prices: $900, $850 or even $800. Still more expensive than the console, but certainly not in the realms of $2000, $2500, $5000, or this one that was bought for $15,100 on Wednesday.
But then there’s the worst one of the lot: a console that sold on eBay for $50,100. The seller’s account is still active on eBay too.
The highest listings on eBay Australia at the time of writing are all from September, when the first wave of PS5 pre orders began. Not all of the crazy $20,000 listings ended up selling — some were relisted, while others simply ended. But there are other listings that, while not in the $50,000 territory, are definitely way, way too much to be paying for a goddamn PlayStation.
(As a note, if you’re looking at the bid amounts and timings and it seems completely wild, you’re not alone. eBay bidding is a world unto its own, and the platform has its own challenges with bots and automated proxy bids. Our sister site Gizmodo posted a great report into scalper bots when the RTX 3080 was impossible to buy, and you should definitely check that out.)
As I mentioned yesterday, if this seems completely crazy to you, the reality is we’re going to see a lot more of it. The rise and attention of scalper bots and cooking groups has been on the periphery of consumer tech for years. And because, sadly, people are actually forking out absurd amounts of money to get around a lack of supply, it’s going to become a part of life any time a new piece of hardware drops.
You know how we’ve repeatedly pointed out that pre-ordering video games is a bad deal for consumers? Well, you might have to get used to the idea of hardware being a bad deal too. Until companies work out a smarter solution on the supply front — or start deploying machine learning and other neural networks to properly do something about these automated bots — we’re only going to see more of this.