Are you taken aback?
Well, we can’t realistically say that we didn’t see this coming. During Gamescom Opening Night Live, Microsoft announced it is releasing a limited edition Halo 20th Anniversary Xbox Series X. Pre-sales started yesterday and are unsurprisingly sold out and going for enormous markups from scalpers.
Among the various trailers and game updates during the Gamescom Opening Night Live presentation, Microsoft thought it fitting to announce a “very” limited edition Halo-themed Xbox Series X to celebrate the franchise’s 20th anniversary. The $550 console does not ship until November 15, but pre-orders started yesterday.
Microsoft sold the system directly, as well as through Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. As of this morning, Best Buy and Target still had units available. No one is surprised that all locations are now sold out. According to the most recent eBay postings, a significant proportion of pre-orders went to scalpers. The Halo Xbox Series X has a starting price of $3,100, but most options are closer to $1,000. So far, the highest confirmed sale was for $1,300.
It’s unclear why the Xbox team decided it would be a good idea to introduce a limited edition next-generation system during the worst home gaming console shortage in history. The visuals, on the other hand, are quite clear. With virtually no safeguards in place to prevent bots from grabbing up entire supplies, Microsoft appears to have taken advantage of the present situation of hardware sales by releasing an already limited Xbox, knowing it would be gobbled up within hours.
To be clear, I’m not saying this was Microsoft’s intention, only that the timing and optics of the situation make it look like a money grab. Of course, until stores begin selling consoles in their brick-and-mortar locations, this will continue to happen.
Retailers are just as guilty of taking advantage of the situation. We are now nearing one year since next-gen consoles launched. The consumer buying frenzy has slowed, and the pandemic is ebbing. Yet you still cannot go to a local store and buy one because retailers continue to refuse to sell consoles in their physical outlets. They have become quite content selling out as soon as they put their allotments online, unashamedly selling their entire stock to scalpers, consumer be damned.