The Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics card was released at 9AM ET, and disappointment began only seconds later. All major online stores in the US are sold out, and there have been reports of brick-and-mortar stores each having as few as 10 units for sale. The end result: eBay scalpers are now trying to cash in, and very few people who want to enjoy the graphics card seem to have actually gotten their hands on a confirmed order.
The card is being listed on eBay for many hundreds of dollars — in some cases, even thousands of dollars — over its $699 sticker price. And PC gaming fans are mad, claiming that Nvidia held a sloppy launch just a day after US retailers similarly botched early preorders for Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 5.
A list here of filtered eBay listings shows many RTX 3080 cards selling for between $1,000 and as much as $2,500. Many of these are “buy-it-now” listings, and it’s not clear if the accounts are actually in possession of a card from a physical retailer or the confirmation of an online order shipping soon, so it’s hard to tell which listings are legitimate. But it’s clear there’s an exploitative gold rush forming around the RTX 3080 just hours after it went on sale.
Nvidia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The chipmaker is already facing the wrath of many disgruntled prospective buyers on Twitter, with scores of users replying to its celebratory “all sold out” tweet this morning with stories of frustration and even the beginnings of conspiratorial accusations the company faked the launch and didn’t sell anything at all.
“What’s the point of the whole ‘Notify Me’ emails if they didn’t go out with a time for us to buy them or some system to purchase them that isn’t easily targeted by bots?” reads one of the most liked replies to Nvidia’s tweet. “One second it was Notify Me and then Out of Stock the next. Why wouldn’t you do more to stop scalpers?”
What's the point of the whole "Notify Me" emails if they didn't go out with a time for us to buy them or some system to purchase them that isn't easily targeted by bots?— Amber Hamilton ️⚧️ (@ANicHamilton) September 17, 2020
One second it was Notify Me and then Out of Stock the next. Why wouldn't you do more to stop scalpers?
Many shared in the frustration of trying and failing to secure an order even after waiting for hours and doing everything as Nvidia instructed.
I was up since 9 PM CST waiting on this card, checking every hour in between college work. Didn't even get to see the buy now button. Why is this purchasing behavior acceptable, NVIDIA? Could there not have been pre-orders so selling out wouldn't happen?— grealdy (@grealdyTTV) September 17, 2020
1) Not a single partner who had notifications for launch of the product sent one (that includes your own stores)— NotTheOnlyRobert (@rleiper84) September 17, 2020
2) the nVidia shop went from Notify to sold out in 1.2 seconds
3) You didn't work with retailers to prevent scalpers
So you want us to buy AMD Cards?
Wish y'all would've made a system so real consumers could have actually ordered a card. Stayed up all night just to get crashed servers and everything sold out within 2 minutes without me even seeing the item as available. Literally went right from "Not Available" to "Sold Out".— Jordan L (@MrJordyboy) September 17, 2020
This afternoon, Nvidia finally responded to the situation with an acknowledgment that the early sale at 9AM ET today was plagued by bots and scalpers, with the company posting a statement to its website that was then reposted to the official RTX 3080 launch day Reddit thread on r/nvidia. An Nvidia spokesperson also shared the statement with The Verge.
Here it is in full:
This morning we saw unprecedented demand for the GeForce RTX 3080 at global retailers, including the NVIDIA online store. At 6 a.m. pacific we attempted to push the NVIDIA store live. Despite preparation, the NVIDIA store was inundated with traffic and encountered an error. We were able to resolve the issues and sales began registering normally.
To stop bots and scalpers on the NVIDIA store, we’re doing everything humanly possible, including manually reviewing orders, to get these cards in the hands of legitimate customers.
Over 50 major global retailers had inventory at 6 a.m. pacific. Our NVIDIA team and partners are shipping more RTX 3080 cards every day to retailers.
We apologize to our customers for this morning’s experience.
While companies like Apple, Samsung, and others in the consumer electronics business seem to have gotten a handle on product launches of even the most sought-after gadgets like new flagship smartphones, gaming companies appear far behind in helping set consumers’ expectations and giving fans clear and concise ways to secure preorders and final purchases of supply-constrained gadgets.
Microsoft is up next with preorders for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S next week, and the company just released the supported retailers and times, with the doors opening at 11AM ET on September 22nd. But we’ll have to see if the Windows maker and its retail partners are better prepared than the competition when it comes time to actually put those pages live and let Xbox fans follow through and snag a preorder. Let’s hope it’s nowhere near as messy.
Update September 17th, 8:46PM ET: Added that Nvidia shared its statement about the situation with The Verge.