Customers anxious to get their hands on Microsoft's new Xbox 360 gaming console, which won't be in stores until late November, are turning to eBay. The online auction site is hosting dozens of listings for the system, many selling for asking prices of as much as $1,000, which is three times the retail price.
One caveat is that nearly all of the sellers say they can't ship to eBay buyers right now, but have to defer overnight shipments of the Xboxes until Microsoft's official North American release date of Nov. 22. (The console will go on sale in Europe on Dec. 2 and in Japan on Dec. 10.) Nevertheless, the high-priced online market is widely seen as perhaps the only way anxious buyers can ensure they'll get ahold of the systems, which are heavily presold and expected to be in scant supply at retail outlets such Circuit City and Gamestop.
Microsoft has set pricing for the basic Xbox 360at $300. For gamers willing to pay an additional $100, Microsoft plans to offer an Xbox 360 Core System, which comes with additional components and accessories.
In an eBay auction, which ended Tuesday morning, an Xbox 360 system sold for$660. "The system is to be delivered to me on or before 11/19," the seller, whose eBay user ID is ianluvz69, wrote in his auction listing. "It will be overnighted to the winner and you will be part of the next generation of gaming."
Two other Xbox 360 consoles sold, in separate listings, for $610 and $550, with both buyers pledging to ship them Nov. 22.
Buyers who want to be sure to secure a system can avoid an auction and pony up $1,000 using the "Buy It Now" option on one eBay listing.
In several ongoing auctions, bids for Xbox 360 systems, some bundled with the "Perfect Dark Zero" game, were $592, $682, and $810 during a spot check at 11:45 EST on Tuesday.
Early interest in the Xbox stems in part from Microsoft's effort to repositioning the successor to the original Xbox as a console that's less of a standalone product into one that's more network-centric and is capable of serving as a so-called "hub" for digital entertainment
On the downside, reports have emerged that the new Xbox may constitute a juicy target for hackers. Some malware experts believe the system will attract hackers just because it's made by Microsoft. They note that console hacks often take the form of pieces of unsigned code. When installed, they act as Trojans, which overwrite the consoles' firmware and crash the machine.