SA gamers are paying huge markups – and taking big risks – to get a rare PS5
- The PlayStation 5 is in short supply around the world, including South Africa.
- The first waves of stock sold out in seconds, and there's no word yet on when enough will arrive to satisfy the local market.
- But if you're desperate, and willing to take the risk, you might be able to pick one up online – at a hefty 50% markup from the recommended retail price.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Sony released its PlayStation 5 to massive anticipation at the end of 2020 - but if you want to get your hands on one in South Africa, you’ll likely need to pay at least 50% above official retail price, and take some risk too.
Sony’s latest release came seven years after the popular PS4 was first announced. That console still sold 13.65 million units worldwide as recently as 2019. And despite some hesitation, the new iteration was met with near universal positive reviews, and promised a big leap in performance from its predecessor. So, despite hefty R10,000 to R12,000 local price tag (depending on the model) fans flocked to stores and websites to get hold of them.
Abroad, even retail giants like Amazon have been unable to keep enough stock, and in November one gamer made headlines when he queued for 36 hours to get his hands on one of just two units held at a California GameStop store.
In South Africa things have been no different. In the immediate aftermath of the launch, brands like Axe and Burger King, who were able to jump the queue, used the consoles as bait to lure entries into competitions and grow social media followings. And although the South African launch price of the console was the sixth highest out of 20 countries analysed by Picodi, stock still sold out in seconds.
Online retailer Raru says it cleared out its supply of PS5s in just over 60 seconds, and along with most other online stores have now resorted to a holding page that, at best, allows for noncommittal pre-sale registrations when stock becomes available once again.
This dearth of supply has led to a burgeoning black market around the world, so much so that in the United Kingdom, politicians recently proposed a ban on automated bot buyers.
South Africa’s supply shortages appear to be less bot-driven, and more due to limited supplies reaching the country’s shores to begin with, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t floating around the darker corners of the retail web here.
Your best bet for picking up a console in the foreseeable future in South Africa, therefore, remains taking a sizeable risk on a PS5 lurking somewhere on a local classifieds website. But even if these units do arrive promptly and in the pristine condition as the sellers’ near universally promise, your initial outlay is going to be significantly more than the recommended retail price.
Online classified site Gumtree has dozens of PS5 disc version listings that range from R17,000 up to R19,000, a markup of between 42% and 58% from price you’ll pay at an official retailer.
A seller on online auction site Bidorbuy currently has a unit listed at R18,490 (a 54% premium), and you’ll need to stump up for shipping, too.
And OLX also has several listings for the consoles which fit into the same inflated price range - although there was onelisted on the site this week at a competitively priced R12,500, which ironically, sets off alarm bells that it might be a scam.
All online console ads seem to share similar characteristics: poorly lit, out of focus photographs of the boxed consoles, often set against beige carpets or tiles, accompanied by scant descriptions that make promises of brand new, often sealed, and untouched units.
Gumtree sellers contacted by Business Insider SA said they’d either been lucky to scoop up limited stock on online stores ahead of time, or are “resellers” who buy from various sources, including the public, tack on their own profit, and sell them on again, with the inflated prices justified by “the demand”.
None of the sellers were willing to reduce their prices, but unsurprisingly they did go to lengths to make assurances about provenance and reliability.
Even if you are willing and able to shell out the additional 50%, or at least R6,000 more, for the console, though, the risks far outweigh the benefits of getting in ahead of the crowds.
Online classified websites are rife with scams, with some reporting an increase during lockdown. And if by some miraculous chance the overpriced console arrives sealed, legitimate, and in working order, unless it comes with a proof of purchase from a legitimate local retailer, or an authentic local warranty, you may have little to no recourse should something go wrong.
Which would leave you with little more than a very large, and very expensive, plastic brick to look at.
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