Yesterday Microsoft revealed a bunch of information about Halo Infinite at Gamescom, including the reveal of a brand new, limited edition Halo Infinite-themed Xbox Series X. It’s just like a regular Series X, but with a special Halo-themed design.
To put it mildly, this rather annoyed me. And I say that as a long-time Halo fan, and one that has a hefty collection of Halo themed Xbox consoles.
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There are quite a few reasons why I’m annoyed at the launch of this console. The first is entirely my own fault, since I already bought the boring black standard Xbox Series X back in March.
Originally my plan had been to wait out Halo developers 343i, and see whether they would be launching a Halo-themed console. After all, Microsoft has done this four times in the past for Halos 3, 4, 5, and Reach.
Then I had the chance to actually buy an Xbox Series X as an impulse purchase. During one of the many Xbox Series X restocks, I found a local retailer had a single console in stock. I’d have to drive 20 miles to pick it up, but that would only take about 90 minutes out of my day if the traffic was good.
It was an exceptionally lucky find, especially since I hadn’t been keeping a close eye on Xbox Series X restocks. I never really tried to get a next-gen console, after seeing all the crushing disappointment from people that were. So after some speedy deliberation I decided to pull the trigger and do it.
My logic was that Microsoft has had a nightmare of a time keeping the Xbox Series X in stock, especially with the global chip shortage. So why would they divert precious resources to creating a special edition console with a fancy design?
Plus, even if Microsoft did release one, what were the odds that I was actually going to be able to buy one?
Microsoft messed up as well
The fact I jumped the gun and bought an Xbox Series X isn't the only reason I'm upset. I feel a little bit embarrassed and foolish, though that's a first-world problem that doesn't really matter that much.
My main issue now is that Microsoft has apparently learned absolutely nothing from the past year of trying to sell Xbox consoles.
For starters, Microsoft made the mistake of opening up pre-orders immediately after the console was announced, and naturally it sold out pretty much instantly. In other words, you had to have been watching Microsoft’s Gamescom presentation to be in with a chance of actually getting the console.
Sadly, it turns out even those people struggled to fill their orders, thanks to our good old friends the scalpers. And by friends, I mean the opposite.
A quick look on eBay shows that there are already dozens of listings for the Halo Infinite Xbox Series X, with asking prices well over $1,000 in a lot of cases. In fact, at the time of writing, the cheapest price we saw on eBay was $750. That price was on an auction with six bids, and nearly seven days left to go.
A lot of those listings seem to be shipping from Australia as well, which means you have to take shipping and potential customs or tax charges into account when you buy.
And we’ve already seen that it doesn’t have to be this way. Valve managed to make the process of pre-ordering a Steam Deck a lot less painful by limiting the reservations of consoles to people with existing Steam IDs. And Steam Decks are still available to reserve.
The Steam Deck pre-order system was not perfect, and you currently have to wait until Q2 2022 to get your hands on one, but you still can. And eBay is pretty devoid of scalper listings, suggesting someone has actually done something about the sketchy world of console reselling.
Head over to the Halo subreddit and you'll find a lot of people loudly complaining that Microsoft should have done something similar with the Halo infinite console. And they do have a point.
I have an Xbox Series X and I’ll still be able to enjoy Halo Infinite in 4K HDR when it arrives on December 8. I would have liked to have had the Halo edition console, but the circumstances just aren’t there.
I certainly have no plans to spend $549/£479 on a Series X console when there is absolutely nothing wrong with mine. And if history has taught me anything, it’s that these consoles will eventually be sold on as gamers upgrade their systems. Give it a couple of years and I should be able to pick one up for significantly less than the MSRP, and proudly display it on my shelf.
Still, I wish Microsoft (and eBay) would be a little more proactive in dealing with scalpers, though. I doubt I'm the only person who didn't wait it out and see if a Halo Series X console would arrive.
And those people now have the problem of not having an Xbox Series X to play Halo Infinite on. Sure, the game will work on the Xbox One, or the Xbox Series S, but it isn't quite the same. After six years of waiting for the sixth Halo game, people who want to play the title with the best possible picture should be able to.
Sadly, it seems some people may not get that option.
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Start a backorder list. Require users to sign in to their Microsoft account and pre-charge their credit card for the $550.
Don't do the final charge on the card until the device ships
Give users an order # and an ETA, even if it's well into 2022
If MS wants this to be a limited edition, close the order signup for the limited edition console (like the Halo edition) and then just have a different list for the standard console.
Give users a way to check the ETA using their order numberFor many of us, we want to get an XBox Series X but we're not in an urgent need of it. We understand the parts shortage, and that it might take a while, but if we know it's coming and have some idea when, there's almost zero incentive to buy one from a scalper. The scalpers will also have limited ability to buy a bunch of the spots in the preorders because of step #1 - their credit cards will only let them pre-authorize so much.
This is not rocket science. Microsoft, please help.
as for scalpers, thats always going to be an issue when we all depend on online shopping.
as someone that works in gaming retail i just want to point out that my store as well as plenty others still have Pre-Orders available and have since they went live. when everyone predominantly shops online to save a few quid i will have no sympathy when they complain about no stock availability while stores like mine that have stock suffer
i have served hundreds of people of the last year with PlayStations and Xboxs. try shopping in a real shop rather than online. Gaming retail is dying and we'll all regret when it does
The only way that the entire scalping thing is going to stop is for gamers to stop buying consoles of any type at the inflated price. If the scalpers ended up stuck with a bunch of consoles and no way to get any profit out of them they'd stop buying, sell what they already had, and the market would return to normal . But for some reason, people are willing to pay double ( or more ) what the console is priced at. To me its insane.
At the end of the day, the makers aren't as concerned about it as they say they are because they sold their product. What happens in the aftermarket is beyond their control. Could the makers help by doing what Valve did and have pre-orders ? Of course. But that takes manpower and a dedication to customers that, honestly, isn't seen much anymore.
The only reason eBay was so proactive with the steamdeck us because they had like 1000 listings within a few min. Why anyone would want a handheld PC that plays 2019 games at 720p30 on low settings is beyond my imagination but that's another article entirely.