A Steam Deck For $4,000? Scalpers Hit Pre-Orders for Valve’s Handheld PC.
However, it seems Valve instituted effective ways to prevent scalpers from taking pre-orders away from actual consumers during Friday’s sale.
Scalpers is planning big for Steam Deck.
As expected, scalpers are already trying to profit off of the Steam Deck by selling confirmed pre-orders for the device from $1,000 to as much as $4,100.
The eBay listings for the Steam Deck began to trickle in shortly after pre-orders for the handheld gaming PC kicked off on Friday morning. The product itself starts at $399. But some scalpers are betting desperate consumers will pay more.
“WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, MAN?!?! PAPA’S GOTTA EAT,” wrote one scalper, who’s trying to sell his Steam Deck pre-order for $5,000 to someone’s who “filthy rich.”
The initial batch of pre-orders for the Steam Deck did sell out quickly on Friday morning, which may make the product hard to come by once it ships in December. But in some good news, Valve seems to have come up with effective safeguards to prevent online scalpers from crashing the party.
To place a pre-order on Friday, you had to have owned a Steam account that you purchased before June 2021. In addition, each Steam account was limited to only one pre-order, which cost $5 to place. As a result, scalpers were essentially blocked from creating batches of fake Steam accounts to secure multiple pre-orders.
We suspect the system did help consumers reserve the product. That’s because three PCMag staffers successfully placed pre-orders for a Steam Deck Friday morning in what felt like a miracle, given the past terrible launches for the latest PC graphics cards.
The experience certainly wasn’t free of hiccups. The main site for Steam Deck did crash after the pre-orders opened at 10 am PST. Meanwhile, Valve’s check-out system initially struggled to process our credit card information. But by 10:15 am, all three PCMag staffers had successfully placed a pre-order.
Other users weren’t so lucky. For some, an error appeared saying their Steam account was “too new” to be eligible to place a pre-order Friday morning, even though they had been Steam users for years. (Valve will open pre-orders to all Steam accounts this Sunday, July 18th at 10 am.)
Valve’s First hands on Steam Deck.
The Steam Deck page showing that new orders won’t be fulfilled until Q1 and Q2 of next year.
Friday’s initial batch of pre-orders for the Steam Deck seems to have sold out by 10:41 am. When we noticed Valve’s website had changed the order availability for the product to “Q1 2022” instead of December.
Nevertheless, the Steam Deck site is still taking pre-orders from applicable users. But the availability for the 512GB model has been pushed back to “Q2 2022.” That doesn’t bode well for consumers who failed to secure a pre-order.
However, we’ve only noticed about 40 listings for the Steam Deck on eBay so far —another sign that the reservation system kept out scalpers. In contrast, you can already find over a thousand eBay listings for sales of confirmed pre-orders for the Nintendo Switch OLED model. On Thursday, Nintendo kicked off the first batch of pre-orders for the upcoming console, which attracted both consumers and scalpers.
The Bottom Line
That didn’t take long. Scalpers have pushed the price of Valve’s new Steam Deck gaming handheld to as high as $5,000 just one day after it went up for pre-order.
Valve offers three different versions of the Steam Deck: A $399 base model that features 64GB of eMMC storage, a $529 model that includes a 256GB NVMe SSD, and a $649 model with a 512GB NVMe SSD as well as anti-glare glass for the display.
Demand for the handheld appeared to be higher than Valve expected. Its servers were strained when pre-orders started, and at the time of writing, delivery dates have slipped to 2Q22 for the 64GB and 256GB models and 3Q22 for the 512GB one.
Valve technically classified these orders as reservations, with a $5 deposit applied to the final order when the devices are closer to shipping. It appears that in some cases, the scalpers are only selling the reservation, which means their buyers will also have to purchase the hardware from Valve, but in other cases, the Steam Deck itself is truly for sale.
This ambiguity not only makes it harder for buyers to determine the true cost of a system but also gives scalpers a way to maximize their profits by requiring even less of an upfront investment.
None of this is particularly shocking. Scalpers thrive at the intersection of low supply, high demand, and relatively low MSRPs—which is why they’ve managed to make millions by targeting PlayStation 5 consoles, GPUs, and other electronics.