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Oh, scalpers. The bane of everybody’s lives, and one of the major forces behind next-generation console and PC hardware scarcity. Gamers this year were frustrated at not only the competitive process of getting a standard-priced console from retailers, but also the sky-high second-hand prices set by scalpers looking to make a profit.
So exactly how much did scalpers make off of this new set of hardware? Data engineer Michael Driscoll created an analysis that tried to answer the question (via Tom’s Hardware). He processed sold listings on eBay for PS5 and Xbox consoles, as well as AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, and recorded the median percentage of the manufacturer’s suggested price (MSRP) that a certain hardware type sold for since launch. Take note that he only pulled US listings, so it’s not a global resell market estimate.
To no one’s surprise, scalpers made a killing on the PS5, specifically the standard version. Since November, it has consistently sold for more than 250% of its suggested retail price. Considering a standard PS5 edition retails at $500, that means people were consistently paying above $1250 for a console. Driscoll commented, “Over 32,000 PS5s have been sold on eBay, resulting in scalpers netting $19 million in profits.” The disc-less edition sold above 125% MSRP and at a maximum of 200% MSRP, staying between $500 and $800.
Interestingly, Driscoll noted that the PS5 sold around 13% more units on the eBay resell market than the Xbox Series X and at an 18% higher cost. But if you were worried about scalpers’ profit margin from the Xbox next-gen consoles, don’t be. The Series X consistently sold above 140% MSRP–so more than $700–since launch date, and sold more than the Series S. In total, Driscoll estimates that scalpers made $9 million from Xbox Series X and Series S resells.
Concluding his analysis, Driscoll notes that scalpers made $82 million in sales and $39 million in profit since September from next-gen consoles, as well as new Nvidia and AMD hardware. Though not all the profits funneled into resellers’ pockets; eBay and PayPal took a cut of around $6.6 million and $2.4 million, respectively.
The reseller market is likely much larger, since people also sell items on Facebook Marketplace, Twitter DMs, and more informal platforms. Driscoll conservatively guesses that the real scalping market is at least 2-5x bigger. That means scalpers probably as a whole made a lot more on top of Driscoll’s eBay analysis.
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