Oops! A lot of Xbox Series X shoppers may have bought Xbox One X by mistake

Xbox One X
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For months, journalists and fans alike have pointed out that Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are very confusing console names, particularly since Microsoft already sells systems called the Xbox One X and Xbox One S. Customers on Amazon apparently agreed, as they apparently bought the Xbox One X in droves as soon as Xbox Series X pre-orders went live. The only question, though, is whether these are real soon-to-be-disappointed customers, or simply bots who don’t know any better.

Andrew Alerts, an Amazon deals purveyor on Twitter, shared some interesting information about the Xbox One X yesterday (September 22), after the initial pre-order fervor for the Xbox Series X had died down a bit. The Xbox One X sales rank on Amazon was up 747 percent: from 2,804, to 4. That’s a pretty steep incline, particularly for a three-year-old console that’s about to be replaced.

The first possibility that occurred to Andrew — as well as a lot of his readers — was that people had simply confused the two consoles. It’s not at all hard to see how that could happen. In the frenzy of pre-ordering one Xbox console with an “X” in the title, a user could very easily order a different one by mistake. (This is particularly true since Amazon’s search interface is generally bad at pinpointing particular products, but that’s a separate discussion.) Whether the buyer didn’t know the difference between the two consoles, or was simply desperate to click “Add to cart” on something before it disappeared, it’s entirely possible that we’re about to see a surge of disappointed new Xbox One X owners.

The other possibility, however, is much more entertaining, and comes with a side of karmic justice. It’s no secret that nefarious scalpers have set up complex systems of bots to pre-order everything from the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 to the Xbox Series X, then resell them at hideous markups, usually just in time for a major holiday. 

However, unlike humans, bots don’t have the capacity to differentiate between two similarly named products; they just purchase whatever the algorithm tells them to. It’s entirely possible that a bunch of scalpers will now find themselves sitting on a stockpile of old consoles rather than the new, more desirable ones.

Of course, unless we hear from either confused buyers or bot-programmers (the latter is unlikely), it’s hard to say which of these actually happened. Occam’s Razor suggests the former, but don’t count out the very real possibility of computer systems exacerbating human stupidity and greed. Either way, keep in mind that Xbox Series X is Microsoft's new next-gen console; Xbox One X is a discontinued current-gen machine from three years ago. 

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.