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Who Has Your PS3: How Bad is the Console Scalping Problem?
game: PS3
posted by: Aaron Stanton
publisher: Sony
date posted: 01:09 PM Wed Nov 15th, 2006
last revision: 01:15 PM Wed Nov 15th, 2006

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Click to read.Sony opened the flood gates a few days ago be releasing the PS3 in Japan. Selling over 88,000 units, Sony is quickly clearing their stock of hardware; no matter what, the PS3 will be in short supply for months. Then some disturbing information began to arise. Kotaku published a letter from a reader at the Japanese launch that seemed convinced that the majority of people buying PS3s were scalpers, buying them to resell for a profit, not gamers. A man on Joystiq.com reportedly has 100 PS3s, about $50,000 worth of hardware presumably collected for the purpose of reselling. And then finally, the sales numbers from the PS3 launch, released by 1up.com, suggest that more hardware units sold than software at a ratio of about .98 games for every PS3. That means that roughly 1,768 PS3s are floating out there without a game.

People have expressed concern that the system isn\'t being purchased by gamers, but instead by entrepreneurs eager to turn a profit. Which leaves a question: Is your future PS3, ultimately made for you, going to go to a scalper before it makes it to your hands? Is Sony facing a bleak future, where more people are interested in buying and selling their system than playing it?

But hold on. But let\'s put these numbers in perspective. If 1,768 units were bought with no software, that means about 2% of the 88,400 units sold are not being used to play PS3 titles. But there are other factors. This isn\'t the first time that hardware has outsold the software. When the PS2 launched in Japan in 2000, the most popular title bought with the system was not a game at all, but a copy of The Matrix on DVD.

Not all of the 2% were bought to be resold, probably, and many of the systems bought with a game are going to end up for sell online. So, between 2% and 5% of the systems were bought with no games. What does that tell us? To start with, let\'s compare these numbers to another system lauch, the Xbox 360 in the U.S. in 2005.

According to an article on Next-Gen.biz that was published around the launch of the Xbox 360, roughly 40,000 Xbox 360 units were sold on eBay within about 10 days of launch. Since the Xbox 360 launched with about 400,000 units available in the U.S., roughly 10% of units were bought and sold instead of played. That\'s actually a larger percentage than the initial 2% to 5% we\'re seeing from the PS3 launch.

So are people buying the PS3 just to sell it? Sure, it happens. But was the launch really dominated by entrepreneurs looking for quick cash? It\'s hard to say.

Here\'s one more tidbit for you: The day after launch on November 22nd, 2005, the number of Xbox 360 units on eBay jumped to 28,000. That means that, on the day of launch, 7% of the 400,000 units sold went directly from the store to online auction. 28,000 units. Is the .98 difference - 1,768 units - between the hardware and the software sells for the PS3 indicative of a problem? Again, I\'m going to let you decide that, but to me it tends to indicate that - at least for now - more people are buying the PS3 for personal use than people in the U.S. bought the Xbox 360 for personal use. The lack of software might be more an indication of the high price tag than anything else - an extra $60 or $120 for an extra game or two sounds like a lot when you just dropped $600 on a system.

When the PS3 launches on November 17th, we\'ll watch to see how many show up on eBay that first day. Then we\'ll know for sure exactly how the launches compare.

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