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Facepalm: 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.
The console was available from Microsoft directly, as well as Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. As of this morning, units were still available from Best Buy and Target. To the surprise of no one, all locations are now sold out. Judging by the newest eBay listings, a good number of pre-orders went to scalpers. The Halo Xbox Series X is listing for as high as $3,100, although most offerings are closer to $1,000. The highest confirmed sale so far went for $1,300.
It is debatable why the Xbox team thought it was a great time to announce a special edition next-gen console during the biggest home gaming console shortage in history. However, the optics are pretty clear. With virtually no adequate controls to prevent bots from snatching up entire inventories, Microsoft appears to have taken advantage of the current state of hardware sales to release an already limited Xbox knowing it would get snatched 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.