Ebay is littered with Steam Deck scalpers, with some attempting to sell the gaming device for more than three times what you would pay through Valve.
With the devices in short supply, and official pre-order fulfillment times edging further into the future, markets like eBay provide a sideways route to acquiring one of these PC gaming handhelds. However, going the Ebay way will make you pay a lot for your lack of patience, with completed listings of what should be $529 devices easily seen fetching over $1,500. PCMag first reported on the significant number of scalpers, many of whom appear to have the device in-hand and ready to ship to potential buyers.
In the US, Valve sells Steam Deck devices at $399, $529 or $649, for capacities of 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB, respectively. There are some other differences with regard to storage speed and the screen glass, and you can read about those in our full-fledged Steam Deck review.
At the time of writing, the official Steam Deck Steam Store Page allows one to reserve any of the three SKUs mentioned above for a nominal fee ($5), with one big drawback. All Steam Deck pre-orders today come with the warning that your order is expected to be fulfilled "after Q3 2022." So you may end up waiting until Q4 this year, and that is a long time in tech. But the idea of paying so much more should set off the alarm that buying off of Ebay may be a bad deal.
Pondering over the first page of listings, most continental US sellers seem to be hoping to achieve $1,500 or more from their Steam Deck sales listings. Some have quite ridiculous Buy-it-Now pricing, over $2,500. Most of these promise they have the device "in hand," and will happily ship anywhere.
A second tier of US scalper sellers have dared to go the auction route, and have done fairly well. It looks like they can even raise over $1,400 for a 64GB eMMC machine. A cheaper eBay purchase option seems to be to buy a device from Europe. These seem to be commonly $700 to $800, but you will have to wait and that is a lengthy transit, so not as comfortable a purchase.
Another interesting category of eBay listing that the Steam Deck seems to have inspired is the sale of a device that hasn't yet shipped. In the image below you can see a user who has a reservation which will become available to ship on April 1, 2022.
We have checked through a few of the device reservation sales and they have all been described in the item specifics as a "handheld system" with model and capacity descriptions. However, it doesn't seem to be a highly reassuring way to spend so much money. Due to this uncertainty the descriptions mentioning "in hand… ships immediately" look like they are preferred. Still, you should be wary and ask get answers about any questions you may have if you're even thinking of bidding.
Many of these prices are lower than in July, when people were selling reservations for as high as $5,000 when we didn't even know the device's release date.
Save Your Money and Buy a New Laptop?
The Steam Deck is an undeniably cool device,. But it still needs a bit of time to mature and live up to expectations, and remember - it earned its four-star rating in our review at MSRP pricing.
If you are considering paying $1,500 or more on a portable PC for gaming, perhaps one of the new breed of compact but powerful laptops could meet your needs at this kind of price, or less. In the meantime the Steam Deck platform matures, improves, and you might even get to see the Steam Deck 2 or 3 arrive before you feel again like splashing the cash.
For those of you considering a gaming laptop we have a recently updated guide covering the Best Gaming Laptops of 2022. If portability is key, which is likely if you are reading about the Steam Deck, you might want to read through our Best Ultrabooks and Premium Laptops 2022.