In a perfect world, yesterday was a glorious day for gamers. Nvidia’s surprisingly-inexpensive GeForce RTX 3080 went on sale and Sony’s newly-price-tagged PlayStation 5 hit pre-order. Only it’s 2020 and scalpers are still a thing, and neither of these hotly-anticipated products were available for very long.
GeForce RTX 3080 sees shortages
The GeForce RTX 3080, the first of Nvidia’s 30-series cards, hit retail at 9 a.m. EST. Only seconds later Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, and Nvidia all listed the card as sold out. If you haven’t yet reached your daily requirement for sodium, the replies to an Nvidia tweet about the card being available are extra salty. People queued up at meatspace shops like Microcenter only to find out the shop had 10 cards in stock for the 30-plus people in line.
Meanwhile, eBay is chock full of RTX 3080 listings that start at $1,199, half a grand over the listed retail price. They only climb from there, with some sellers asking for as much as $3,000 for the brand new graphics card. VideoCardz notes that people have written bots to place bids that will never pay out on those cards in hopes of forcing the sellers down to a fair price (or just bilking them out profiting on their hard-stolen purchase.
Nvidia later sent out a statement on the matter, stating that it is reviewing orders placed through its own store to try to get cards into the hands of actual humans:
“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.”
PlayStation 5 Pre-Orders sell out
PlayStation fans, meanwhile, aren’t faring much better. Sony unveiled pricing and a release date for the PlayStation 5 during its PlayStation 5 showcase on Wednesday, unveiling a $500 and $400 model, the latter dropping the disc drive to save some money. Shortly after the show, Sony revealed that pre-orders were coming Thursday, though it didn’t mention what time.
Even before that though, some retailers began to sell pre-orders on Wednesday evening; other retailers waited for Thursday, but that didn’t top most of that stock from selling out almost as quickly. Sites like Amazon and Best Buy show the system as unavailable or “coming soon,” though Wal-Mart has been periodically posting additional pre-orders as well. These, too, are going for almost twice the price on eBay.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has posted exact dates and times for pre-orders for the Xbox Series X and S on its Xbox News site.
2020 is weird
2020 is a strange year for all of this new hardware to launch, between the effects of coronavirus on manufacturing, widespread unemployment, and the fact that video games are one of the few forms of media thriving right now. It’s hard to tell if these sales shortages result from intentional constrainment or manufacturing limitations. A recent report denied by Sony indicates that it had to cut PlayStation 5 production numbers by 4 million. There are a lot of unanswered questions, in other words. To see two huge pieces of consumer hardware become available for purchase/pre-order on the same day and to see them both empty out in seconds in our current economic climate is as strange as it is frustrating.