This past week I’ve been watching eBay, trying to decide if I should sell my PS5. I wouldn’t dream of becoming a scalper, but it’s getting hard to ignore just how much it’s worth. My daughter and I had beaten Astro Bot and Miles Morales, so I thought I’d peek at the resale market. Wow, are they worth a lot!
And it’s not just the PlayStation 5 — I found that Xbox Series X and S, Nvidia’s RTX 3090, 3080, 3070, and 3060 Ti graphics cards, and AMD’s rival RX 6800 and 6800 XT GPUs are all commanding incredibly high prices on the resale market. It no longer surprises me how each big ticket holiday gaming gadget sells out nigh-instantly anytime they’re restocked; the incentive for scalpers is just too high. They’re so high even folks like me, who bought one intending to use it, might have to think twice. (That's capitalism for you.)
Example: The full-fat PlayStation 5 with a disc drive retails for $499.99. But it’s easily worth double that on eBay: I averaged the actual final sale price of a hundred PS5s, subtracting a few sketchy outliers, to arrive at a street price of $1,024. Mind you, that’s not the asking price: that’s what people are actually paying for these consoles.
I ran the same numbers for the PS5 Digital Edition, the new Xboxes and all six graphics cards. Here are the results:
PS5, Xbox, GPU street prices: Holiday 2020
|Item||Retail Price||Street Price|
|Xbox Series X||$499||$835|
|Xbox Series S||$299||$471|
|Nvidia RTX 3090||$1,499||$2,076|
|Nvidia RTX 3080||$699||$1,227|
|Nvidia RTX 3070||$499||$819|
|Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti||$399||$675|
|AMD RX 6800 XT||$649||$1,232|
|AMD RX 6800||$579||$841|
I didn’t weed out any open-box or used consoles to get to these numbers, and you can easily see how strong the PS5’s demand is in particular: even the PS5 Digital Edition (without the disc drive) is worth nearly as much as the disc version that retails for $100 more.
While scanning through, I also saw that including extra games, controllers or accessories isn't even necessary: sometimes it was enough to justify an extra $100 or $200, but a PS5 didn’t need one to rake in $1K or more. (Some Xboxes with extra accessories seemed to be worth $50 to $100 more than others, but people are clearly buying for the consoles themselves.) All this means unless the situation changes drastically, the scalping isn’t going to stop anytime soon.
If there’s a bright spot for would-be console buyers, it’s that not every PS5 and Xbox listed on eBay is actually selling, even if quite a few are. In terms of volume, the PS5 and new Xboxes each moved around 1,000 units on eBay on December 3rd alone, but some $1,000 PS5 and $850 Xbox Series X listings ran out the clock without getting sold. (Most PS5 Digital Edition and Xbox Series S seemed to be selling, but there were also far fewer of them listed than the disc-based models.)
On the PC side of things, the new Nvidia and AMD graphics cards appear to be in incredibly short supply judging by eBay listings, though. Almost every single card I saw found a buyer, save the most exorbitantly priced RTX 3090s — and even there, there were a handful of $2,400 and $2,500 sales for what’s nominally a $1,500 GPU.
The shortages feel very real: maybe a hundred RTX 3080 cards changed hands on December 3rd, even fewer RTX 3070 cards, and only 27 of the new AMD cards trickled down to eBay buyers that day.
As we’ve discussed repeatedly at The Verge, all of these items are practically impossible to buy at an actual store for their retail price right now. Unless you’re lucky, have connections, or are willing to pay for bots or scalpers, you might not be able to find one at all — and retailers have don't have the right incentives to fix that.
We like to think we’ve got some fast, savvy dealhunters on staff, but many of us are still struggling to find a new GPU, PS5, or Xbox. Each and every supposed opportunity to buy is another shitshow. “Coming soon” is almost always immediately followed by “Out of stock,” and if we actually manage to get one into our digital shopping cart in that blink of an eye, it’ll often vanish before checkout. The December 2nd launch of the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti was no exception, with retailers failing to launch at the scheduled time and others gone before they actually appeared to be in stock.
Best Buy was a particular joy:
It’s also fun to see GameStop and Newegg “restock” these products — where “restock” means upselling us on bundles with unwanted extras. Can you blame them, though, when eBay shows even those buyers could get their money's worth based on the current supply and demand?
This pattern has played out many times before, and it's likely that supply will eventually catch up. Usually, these companies don't intentionally create scarcity, even if it felt like that to me in early 2008 when I camped out in a freezing Best Buy parking lot for a Nintendo Wii a full year after that console launched.
But we are living through unprecedented times right now, with companies like Microsoft and Nvidia signaling it may be months before things even out. I can't remember a holiday season with this many must-have items, either: Tickle Me Elmo, early Power Rangers and that Nintendo Wii were typically one-offs!
I’m still leaning against selling my PS5 on eBay; I just like the idea of trading it for an AMD RX 6800, like I suggested in my review. But it's no easier to find that GPU than it was to find a PS5; it looks like I'd need most of the gains I'd see from selling the console to buy that graphics card on eBay, too.