Every couple of years, the video game industry is shaken up by the release of brand new consoles. These product debuts aren’t minor affairs. They’re major events where supply rarely keeps up with demand from gamers.
Many new consoles that retail stores get in-stock are quickly scooped up by scalpers, who then turn around and resell them for well over retail price. Tap or click here to see how old consoles can still fetch a hefty price tag.
This year, Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox series X and S are some of the hottest holiday gifts. Supplies are running low, and you won’t find them easily without running into scalpers and scammers. Here are the best ways to get your hands on one.
We’ll also show you how to pick up a Nintendo Switch. It’s the company’s bestselling console and has been impossible to find over the last several months during the quarantine.
Not just fun and games
Sony and Microsoft are two of the three biggest names in gaming, and both companies released brand new consoles this year in time for the holiday shopping season.
For Sony, the PlayStation 5 marks the latest evolution in the beloved series of gaming consoles. It boasts improved graphics and performance from the PlayStation 4, and its load times have been cut in half — as low as 17 seconds in some games.
Microsoft, on the other hand, released the Xbox series S and Xbox series X. The series X is the beefier model, with improvements in performance over the Xbox One and backward compatible with thousands of titles from the last two decades. The series S is designed as a more affordable alternative that trades graphics for price and performance.
The new Xboxes were available for sale on Nov. 10, and the PS5 made its debut on Nov. 12.
Both company’s offerings have been excessively hyped over the past several months, and retailers like GameStop and Best Buy offered pre-orders for a limited time. Now that these orders have been fulfilled, it’s almost impossible to find unclaimed consoles for regular retail price.
Scams are afoot
When a highly anticipated item becomes scarce, scammers see a perfect opportunity to make some extra cash. Shoppers eager to buy one of these rare consoles have found themselves tricked by fraudulent listings and online scams. Some even believe their legitimate orders were stolen right from the delivery truck.
Multiple Twitter users from the U.K. received boxes filled with cat food, toilet paper rolls and George Foreman grills instead of PS5s from Amazon. One victim even reported a driver marking their package as delivered and driving off with it.
Amazon thankfully makes it easy to initiate a return or refund for your orders. It won’t put a console in your hands, but it can help you recover the money you lost.
First, tap or click here to visit the Your orders page. Choose the scam order and select Return or replace items. Follow the onscreen prompts and describe what happened. Amazon will then show you your refund and return options.
Attempting to buy a console outside of Amazon is even riskier. The Better Business Bureau warns that scammers on other websites are pulling the same tricks the Amazon shoppers above experienced. Without Amazon as a go-between, recovering your lost money is far more difficult.
The Bureau urges shoppers to follow these tips to protect themselves from online sales scams:
- Research the company you plan to purchase from thoroughly. Purchase items from sellers you already know and trust. If you decide to purchase from an unfamiliar online store, research other customers’ experiences to see if you find anything concerning. The BBB recommends searching the company’s name followed by “scam” to view any possible complaints.
- Don’t buy from any stores that do not have legitimate contact information like a phone number or support chat. Sites with nothing but a simple email form for support should be avoided.
- Avoid impulse buying. Scammers will use urgent-sounding language to hook you into buying without thinking. Avoid sites with “special promotions” or “flash sales,” which can be red flags for brand new items.
- Don’t believe prices that are too good to be true. Before you start shopping, find out the console’s retail price and compare the deal to the average reseller price. Heavy discounts on a rare item are obvious signs of a scam.
What can I do if I want to buy an Xbox or PS5?
To protect yourself from scams, we recommend sticking to mainstream retailers like Amazon for your purchase.
As we mentioned above, the company offers some protection to buyers in the event of a scam that can help you recover your money. You might be able to find some genuine consoles on eBay or Facebook marketplace, but prepare to pay well over retail price for these units.
NowInStock.net is a useful web application that crawls Amazon and other retailers to report inventory when it arrives. Sign up for alerts and stay informed when new consoles hit Amazon’s warehouses.
Visit the site and you’ll see a visual list of the most in-demand items right there on the homepage. Clicking any of these will take you to an item listing page with the most up-to-date information from hundreds of Amazon sellers and online retailers — including big names like Target, Best Buy and eBay.
Depending on what you’re looking for, you can set email, browser or text message alerts just by clicking the buttons on the left-hand side of the website. Tap or click here for more information about NowInStock.net.
Bonus: A great console that’s actually available now
Nintendo Switch is the third of the “Big 3” consoles available to purchase. It’s been around for a few years longer than either the PS5 or new Xboxes and has an expansive game library for kids and adults alike.
Most importantly, it’s considered a safe console for kids, thanks to its focus on user privacy. Mozilla even ranked it as one of the best gadgets for your privacy that you can buy this holiday season. Tap or click here to see the complete list.
The consoles became hard to find during the COVID-19 pandemic, but new shipments of the handheld Switch Lite are available for gamers to order now. It also happens to be the cheapest of the consoles, retailing for under $220.
If you have a gamer on your list, the Switch might be a better option until the initial hype around the PS5 and Xbox models dies down.
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