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Data Engineer Examines Q4 Scalping in PC and Console Market

GeForce RTX 30 Series Scalper Price Graph
(Image credit: dev.to)

Scalping has become one of the most irritating things afflicting the PC hardware and gaming console markets at the moment. With scalpers snatching up what little volume there is of the latest hardware, they make buying a new graphics card or CPU or game console nearly impossible -- at least at the MSRP. So Data Engineer Michael Driscoll from dev.to set out to see just how much money these scalpers have made off of the recent shiny new hardware, to hopefully get an idea as to how long this problem will last.

Driscoll created a program that can grab all of eBay's sold listings for the latest generation AMD and Nvidia silicon, as well as the two new consoles, and put them all together to get an idea of how prices were trending and how much money scalpers were making on these products. While eBay isn't the only place scalpers can sell products, it's where most scalpers go to sell the latest and greatest Nvidia and AMD hardware.

But first, a step back: If you don't know what scalping is, it's when a person (or company) buys a product for the sole purpose of making a profit off of it, specifically, selling it for much more money than the MSRP. This "hobby" works due to supply and demand; when supply is low and demand is high, scalpers can make huge profits. Because if demand is high enough, there will be a customer base that simply won't care how much that product will cost and buy it anyway. When supply starts meeting demand on a broad enough scale, scalpers lose almost all momentum because buyers can go to official retailers and buy the product at a fair price.

Michael's graphs aren't based on actual prices. Rather they are based on percentages, with each product's MSRP being the baseline. That makes reading these graphs a bit easier.

RTX 30 Series:

(Image credit: dev.to)

Looking back at the earliest date here, September 15th, the RTX 3080 was selling almost immediately on eBay for 180% of its normal value. As we move along into October of 2020, it became way worse, with the 3080 selling at 220% above its MSRP. Fortunately, as we got into November, things have somewhat stabilized, with the 3080s going back to selling at 180% above its MSRP. But that's still way more than the suggested price.

Much is the same with the RTX 3090. Many scalpers were selling the card at 220% of its MSRP right off the bat. Then things died down, with the card now selling for around the 140% mark. That's better than the RTX 3080 but still ridiculous pricing for the 3090.

But that's where the good news (if there was any) ends; Nvidia's RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti are probably the worst offenders when it comes to eBay pricing. These are mid-ranged cards, and customers are looking at the price just as much as performance, compared to the 3080 and 3090, where buyers are more concerned about pure performance than general affordability. The 3070 started selling immediately at 180% of its MSRP on eBay and really hasn't gone down since then. The same goes for the RTX 3060 Ti, which sells at 165% of its targeted MSRP.

Overall according to Driscoll, scalpers have made $8,669,418 on RTX 3090s, $10,326,885 on RTX 3080s, $3,321,113 on RTX 3070s and $67,636 from RTX 3060 Tis. 3060 TI sales are low due to it being less than a month old.

AMD RX 6000 Series:

AMD's RX 6000 series GPUs fare much worse than Nvidia's counterparts, probably due to their scarcity. The RX 6800 XT is being sold on eBay for 200% of its MSRP (on average) in November. As we entered December, however, that decreased to 180%.

At least AMD's RX 6800 does look much better at the moment. Starting at launch, it was selling for 180% of its MSRP, but it quickly shot down to 145% roughly a few days later and has stayed there ever since.

Scalpers managed to make $244,609 on RX 6800 XT's and $233,321 on RX 6800s over the past month. These figures really show how little volume there is with AMD's RDNA2 cards.

AMD's Ryzen 5000 Processors:

AMD's new Zen 3 processors aren't doing that well, either. The 5950X, in particular, is the worst offender and sold at 240% of its MSRP at the beginning of November, but slowly made its way down to 155% by December. For the 5900X, things are similar but it stuck to 190% above MSRP until settling down to 160% by the end of November.

The Ryzen 5 5600X was pretty steady, maintaining a price around 150% above its MSRP with no dips or spikes to be seen.

AMD's Ryzen 9 5800X has done the best of all the four CPUs; it started with an MSRP above 150% of its value, but slowly backed down to 120%.

Scalpers made $314,126 on 5600Xs, $377,932 on 5800X's, $483,373 on 5900Xs and $453,090 on 5950Xs, according to the data.

Xbox Series Consoles:

Compared to PC components, the Xbox is going in the opposite direction. For the Series X and Series S, price spikes are all over the place. Even worse, the price has gone up since the consoles launched two months ago. 

The Series X started selling on eBay for around 150% of its MSRP, but that has increased to 170% as an average in December. Similar goes for the Series S, which started at around 150% but has spiked to 170%.

Scalpers have made $3,533,691 on Xbox Series S consoles, and $20,052,783 on Xbox Series X consoles so far.

PS5 Digital & Disc Versions

The PS5, specifically the Digital Edition, has seen the most-inflated prices by far of all the products we've looked at already. At launch, the PS5 Digital Edition sold on eBay for a whopping 255% over MSRP. And that price has gotten higher and higher (albeit with a few spikes in between) to where now it is selling at an insane 350% above its MSRP. 

At the same time, the more-expensive PS5 disc version surprisingly was being sold at much lower prices. At the launch, the console was selling for around 140% above MSRP, and that price has also gone up to where it now sells at roughly 200% above its MSRP.

Scalpers made a profit of $7,215,539 on PS5 Digital editions and a whopping $27,537,790 on PS5 Disc versions of the console, according to these numbers.

Hold Your Fire

All that said, we have good news, at least for PC enthusiasts and gamers: Besides consoles, most PC hardware components show an overall downtrend in prices. Hopefully, this trend will continue, and prices will get lower as we roll into 2021. The lower the prices go, the better for consumers because that means there's more volume going around and/or lessening demand. 

Either way, assuming trends continue, if you're looking to buy a new GPU or AMD CPU and you don't need it by the end of the year, it may be a good idea to sit out the holiday season and check back in again sometime in January.

  • deesider
    I wish I had no morals - looks like I could become very rich!
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    I don't have much faith in ebay auction sales data reflecting real deals completed.

    Unscrupulous vendors often self-bid when they don't meet a target price. Effectively canceling the auction but sending a misleading market signal.

    Lots of bogus bidding up to end deals and some reports of auto bidding to attack scalpers.

    I think Nvidia should have released the 3090 and 3080 at much higher prices and pocketed more of that earlier adopter energy.
    Reply
  • Solandri
    Two solutions I can think of:
    Manufacturer auctions off the products themselves when they're first released. The higher prices being paid as early adopters bid it up ends up in the pockets of the manufacturers, who can then use it to help R&D of future products. Not in the pockets of scalpers.
    Manufacturer doubles the price while there's short supply, but offers a 50% rebate. Product must be purchased from an authorized reseller to qualify for the rebate (rebate check is made out to the name on the receipt), and maximum of one rebate per household address.
    Reply
  • DZIrl
    This only shows how some people are stupid!
    How stupid must be to pay anything more than MSRP. 10% is ok but anything else is ridiculous, crazy.
    There was a story how people are paying 1500 for 3080, twice!
    Reply
  • aisalem
    With all due respect but what's wrong with people buying product and selling it? It's typical business.
    If people are happy to pay more than MSRP for the product then it's their decision.
    I also don't see the reason for people crying that they cannot buy the product they want right now. It's just nuts, just wait an month or two, save some more money and you will be able to buy it.
    General population got strange feeling that they should get the things right now at the time when they want it.
    Reply
  • gtarayan
    I see ebay auctions showing the seller has multiple cards on hand. One particular auction had pictures of multiple 3080 retail boxed cards packed inside a larger manufacturer's box designed to contain 5 retail boxes. What I do not understand is how in the world someone was able to get an order for 10+ cards fulfilled all the while we hear about all these "measures" taken to prevent such scenarios? Couple this with articles purporting that manufacturers such as Asus and MSI have very thin profit margins on these video cards, it escapes all reason as to why they (manufacturers) would sell such a hot product in large quantities to individuals who will instantly turn at least 100% profit. If the issue is that the manufacturers are constrained by Nvidia's terms and conditions in accordance with which they are allowed to design and sell their products containing Nvidia's intellectual property, it is no wonder these companies will find ways to siphon the product out of the retail channel to make profits through "scalpers". The bottom line is, it is impossible that somehow they don't know the product ends up in the hands of resellers (and I do not mean Microcenter or Best Buy).
    Reply