PS5 stock disaster: Analysis reveals scalpers managed to snatch 10-15% of all consoles

PS5 scalpers
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Finding where to buy a PS5 is hard right now, not just because of demand, but because it seems all the stock is being bought by scalpers and their bots. Since they can work faster than ordinary people, it’s become near-impossible to pick up a console.

While it looks like scalpers seem to pick up all the new PS5 consoles as soon as they arrive, that may not be the case in reality. According to a new estimate, the number is around 10 to 15% in the U.S.

This figure comes from Michael Driscol on the DEV community. He scoured aftermarket retails sites with a methodology designed to avoid the most obvious fake listings. That means no listings that didn’t sell, sold for less than the MSRP, or include terms like “image," “paper," “box only” and other phrases that indicate it’s a fake listing.

Driscol noted that VGChartz claims 2.067 million PS5 consoles have been sold in the U.S. up until January 16. With that in mind, the data he found indicates that 7.06% of PS5s in the U.S. are being resold on eBay and StockX, with an additional 3 to 8% being sold through the likes of OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist, 

Driscol admits that he can’t have picked up every single listing, or that his numbers will be 100% accurate. But it does give us some idea of how many consoles are being successfully sold on by scalpers.

Interestingly Driscol’s data suggests that 40% sellers are selling one or two PS5 consoles, suggesting they were simply lucky enough to pick them up and are taking advantage of the console's popularity. That said over 35% of sellers appear to be "true" scalpers selling five or more. The remaining 25% are somewhere in between.

As for pricing, on average the PS5 Digital Edition appears to be selling for $799, which is 200% of its $399 MSPR. While the more expensive disc-based $499 PS5 is selling for 170% of its MSRP, which works out at $849. That said, the post-launch peak saw both consoles were commanding around $300 more over their retail prices, meaning aftermarket prices are coming down.

Considering how problematic the PS5 (and Xbox Series X) launch has been, 10% feels like quite a small number. Particularly since scalping groups seem prone to bragging about their achievements and getting hold of stock before it’s even supposed to be available.

Of course, it doesn’t account for consoles scalpers bought and haven’t been able to sell yet, so there could be a hoard of consoles out there this analysis can’t account for. 

We may have a long wait before Sony even has a chance of flooding the market and make sure everyone who wants a PS5 can get one. But the longer scalpers wait to unload their stock the odds of them making a profit drop, meaning they do have an incentive to try and sell quickly.

It’s worth reiterating that buying from scalpers is not a good idea. They buy up stock because there’s demand for it, meaning shifting consoles is an opportunity for them to make money. If everyone stops buying, they stop hoarding consoles. That’s assuming they actually send you a console and the listing wasn't some sort of scam.

So don’t buy from a scalper, be patient and pick up a PS5 from a retailer for the standard MSRP. Check out our guide on where to buy the PS5 for all the latest stock updates, and check out our list of the top stock-checking Twitter accounts for more immediate alerts.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.