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.
But that hasn’t stopped the secondary market value from soaring above the official price. Listings on eBay range from $800 for reservations for the 64GB model to as high as $5,000 for reservations for the 512GB model at the time of writing.
The estimated delivery window is also affecting the listing prices. A base model expected to ship by December 31 sells for roughly the same amount as a 256GB model arriving in 2022, for example, simply because it will arrive sooner.
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.