PS5 and Xbox Series X scalpers ruining restocks — what you can do now

PS5 and Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Trying to get hold of a PS5, Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S is a bit of a thankless task as Sony's and Microsoft’s new games consoles are seemingly sold out across the world. Every time new stock comes in, it sells out in mere moments. 

That’s because there’s a huge demand for the consoles, but the problem also stems from scalpers. These opportunistic people are using bots to trawl through retailers and buy up as much stock as they can of the PS5 or Xbox Series X, and then resell them for extortionate prices.

Paying more than $1,000 for the PS5 or Xbox Series X, which both cost $499, might seem crazy, especially when these consoles don’t have a vast amount of exclusive games to play. But, unfortunately, it doesn't look like there will be a lot of stock for any of the next-generation consoles until 2021. This means some people might turn to scalpers in a desperate attempt to get a PS5 or Xbox Series X before the holidays.  

PS5 and Xbox Series X restocks: Accounts to follow

PS5 scalpers 

Somewhat ironically, these scalpers now seem to have more console stock than major retailers do. Business Insider reported one reseller got hold of 200 PS5 consoles and managed to sell more than $40,000 worth of consoles in a week, though they will need to sell more if they are to make a profit. But with some consoles going for $1,000 each that looks like a possibility.

And one reseller group called CrepChiefNotify has managed to gather 3,500 PS5 units to sell for hefty prices. And the group is advising other people to do the same and get into the reselling game, further pushing up the price of PS5 consoles. 

This practice isn’t illegal, but it’s not exactly the most morally sound thing to do. At a time when some people might have lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, and might have just scraped enough together for a PS5 as a little bit of cheer before the dumpster fire of 2020 burns out, these inflated prices can ruin their chance at getting a console. 

However, there are even worse PS5 selling situations afoot. Some people have been pretending to sell PS5 consoles on eBay by simply posting photos of the console and scamming people to bid for them when there was no PS5 on offer. There are select words to describe such scalpers and scammers, but they aren’t suitable for publication. 

With all this going on, it might seem absurd to buy a PS5 from such resellers. But with the coronavirus pandemic seeing more people staying at home, some PlayStation fans are clearly desperate to get their hands on a new console to keep them entertained over the holiday season. 

Speaking of the coronavirus, social media posts from the recent Black Friday sales showed how people are so keen to get a PS5 they’ll crowd into shopping centers despite the risk of getting a deadly virus when social distancing can’t be maintained. We advise you don’t put your health at risk to get a PS5 even though it’s a very impressive gaming console. 

Xbox Series X scalpers 

Scalpers are also going after the Xbox Series X and Series S, further contributing to the console’s stock shortages. 

VGC reported that the CrepChiefNotify scalpers managed to snap up 1,000 Xbox Series X consoles as soon as fresh stock became available at U.K. retailer Very. And the group boasted about it online noting: “You snooze you lose.” 

The scalpers are justifying ruining the launch of the next-generations consoles by claiming their reselling is a form of compensation for how some of them have lost jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic having a severe economic effect. And thus they are reselling to provide for their families. Whatever.

"Lots of our community have been furloughed, made redundant, or at some form of disadvantage due the pandemic. These people have managed to cover their bills, put food on the table and supply Christmas presents to their children. It may be unfortunate that a child won't wake up to a PS5 this Christmas, but another child may have woken up to nothing,” the group said. 

Again, none of this is illegal. But we’d suggest there are better ways to make money without making it miserable for gaming fans. 

How to avoid PS5 and Xbox Series X scalpers  

As frustrating as it can be to find an PS5, Xbox Series X or Series S, we suggest you avoid buying a console from these scalpers or other resellers. Even if some of them are legitimate, paying higher than the retail price for the new consoles when they are still in their early days and have various bugs to squash and optimizations to apply, isn’t a smart move. 

If you want to secure a PS5 for the right price, then check out our where to buy PS5 article. And for Microsoft's console, take a look at our where to buy Xbox Series X hub. 

We also appreciate that it can be tricky to stave off the desire for a new gaming console. But if you can hold out until 2021, both Microsoft and Sony should have more consoles available, as well as more exclusive games; Halo Infinite and Horizon Forbidden West are both expected to arrive next year. By then, many more current games will also be optimized for the new consoles, too.

In terms of the bigger picture, stopping the use of bots would be one way to curtail scalpers. But that’s easier said than done, as effectively there’s a bit of an arms race going on between bot systems and the prevention systems retailers use. However, according to Reddit, it seems that Best Buy has been doing a good job of curtailing bots. 

As it stands, it doesn't look like the scalpers will be going away anytime soon. But if you can avoid buying from them, it should at least reduce their numbers and their rampant scalping. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face. 

  • Daggre
    The only 2 companies that can stop the scammers are Microsoft and Sony. They could solve the problem instantly by opening up an unlimited backorder queue where people could just place their orders and get in line. This is exactly what Apple does everything they release a product. It helps them know how many to manufacture, and you can just check your estimated ship date at any time.

    This would cut the scalpers off at the knees. Yes they could get in line like anyone else, but these policies would keep them from selling their spots in line:
    Put a simple credit card pre-authorization hold at time of order
    Clearly state a policy of "1 device per shipping address"
    You cannot change the shipping address without canceling the order
    Your card isn't charged until the device ships
    There's still nothing stopping scalpers from buying a bunch of systems at WalMart, Target or Amazon using their bots, BUT this would give buyers a decent enough alternative option that is TRIED AND TRUE from Apple. Heck, that's even pretty much what Dell and Alienware have always done, only they take your money up front and hold it during the backorder period!