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Video game reselling and high demand: a common annoyance and how the issue is prevalent now

Art by: Alfonso Marone

Picture this: It’s the start of the holiday shopping season. You are in search of a PlayStation 5 as a gift for yourself, and you’re waiting on the website of your favorite store to purchase it upon the restock. However, due to the overwhelming online traffic, the website crashes. You refresh the page, and when you do, it’s all sold out. You decide you’re not going to give up on trying to find one, so you head to eBay to see if anyone is reselling the console. You think you might find one for a reasonable price, however, you’re greeted with quite the opposite. The console is selling for 800, 900, or even over a thousand dollars. You scratch your head as you wonder why these prices are so high.

The situation

Whether it’s the newest Playstation, Nintendo Switch, or Xbox, resell prices and stock shortages are a massive issue. This year was particularly bad, as online reselling was out of check. When there’s not enough supply to meet demand, online resellers capitalize. Online reselling is a practice where someone buys a product and sells it online, usually for a little bit more than the retail price in order to make a profit from the sale. This seems like a win-win scenario; people online manage to purchase hard-to-find items for a reasonable resale price, and the seller makes a fair profit. However, things don’t always work out so perfectly. Many people sell these products for prices that are astronomically higher than retail. Popular consoles like the Xbox Series X/S and Playstation 5 are being sold on eBay for almost twice their retail price, or are even put on auction, causing their price to increase to an incredibly unreasonable amount.

Issues with the online reselling of consoles and video game products

The issue of reselling consoles and video game products online runs even deeper. Scams inevitably plague the reselling scene. There are also issues with people who claim to pre-order or purchase popular items, which often ends up with the person who ordered the item not having their purchase fulfilled, or the seller's claim of having purchased the console to be false. Cases like this usually end up with the potential buyer having to report the sellers’ account to whatever marketplace they are selling on, which leads to a lengthy refund process. Ironically, online reselling is also a major reason why some items sell out so quickly, with people going so far as to create bots or programs that allow the automated purchases of items. Even items games and controllers end up being sold for hundreds or even thousands more than they’re actually worth due to high demand. Within the last two years, many video game products have also been limited edition, making them a ripe target for resellers marketing towards fans who are getting desperate in this search for these coveted items.

How is this practice affected by the recent computer chip shortage?

The recent computer chip shortage has put many companies and console manufacturers in very difficult situations. There is a massive lack of supply, and when companies restock stores with popular consoles it’s still quite difficult to get them due to pre-orderers, and the accessibility of online shopping also causes them to go out of stock very quickly. Companies have been forced to announce they will not be able to produce as many, with production being slowed due to these issues. This has made online reselling more prevalent as many consumers were not able to get these products from official stores. Many people resell these consoles attempting to make a quick buck off of those wanting to buy these products, with some people even buying the consoles for much more than their retail price.

Final consensus

With all of these factors in place, purchasing new consoles and games has been quite difficult for consumers. While some people might manage it, it’s important to acknowledge both the high risk and price that come with purchasing these products from resellers. As all these devices are flying off the shelves due to resellers running rampant, the best thing to do at the current moment would be to either wait until these consoles begin to become more widely available or wait for the next restock. Buyers beware!

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