Opinion: Payday - The $15,100 PlayStation 3

  • Myself and Wolfgang Gruener have just sat, with our mouths agape, as a Playstation 3 bidding war on Ebay reached $10,001.00 a few minutes ago. We nearly fell off of our chairs when it went to $15,000 with mere seconds to go; and finally the winner of the hotly contested bidding war, which began at $1, was a user from the UK who bid $15,100 to become to proud new owner of a Playstation 3.

    For the hundreds, if not thousands, of students and savvy businessmen who lined up - or paid others to line up - weeks before the PS3 went on sale in the US, today is payday. At the time of writing there are around 8200 PS3s on sale on Ebay alone; and heaven knows how many are being circulated by other means or have already been sold on.

    This is simply amazing. At launch the Xbox 360, which suffered some shortages, got bidding of up to about $,000 on eBay. For the PS3 that's more the norm than the upper-limit exception. Guys and gals: It's a friggen games console, more units of which will be delivered between now and Christmas, and many more in the years to come. Is it really worth $15,000 or $10,000 or even $2000 to you to get a $600 product a few weeks or - God forbid - months before most everyone else?

    Look at it this way: When there are more PS3's on the market you are going to suffer upwards of 96% depreciation on your product in about three to six months time - even more if you consider that flogging a second (or, should I say, third) hand item in six to twelve months time will net you less than $600. The world truly has gone mad...

    Sorry, I just have to keep saying these things every two paragraphs to keep myself going cross-eyed at this. For $14,200 you could buy yourself a friggen car and the depreciation would be less over the next year. I certainly hope that nobody watches the ads on TV that tell us about how fifty quid out of our bank accounts can send a third world kid to school or save somebody's life; because if I had just dropped even $2000 for a silly games console I'd feel like hitting myself over the head with it.

    Let's not forget the unfortunate Burbank Best Buy line waiters our Humphrey Cheung spoke to last week, either. One of them was going to buy his PS3 instead of getting his girlfriend an engagement ring. 'Till obsolescence do us part? Still, there is a console fanboy with money to burn born every minute, so kudos to the businessmen and students making (quite) a few fast ones today.

    If you discover crazy people willing to pay for snakes oil then jack up the price I say, you'll probably attract some even richer ones. Ebay has been trying to stamp down on this little bit of market economics gone mad (low supply + high demand = inflated price), but I really think they should stay well-enough away, for a number of reasons.

    The company has been trying to limit where and who can sell PS3s - so no US units can theoretically be sold on in the UK; and only "experienced" sellers can tout their PS3s. I think Ebay should take a step back from interfering in the purely capitalistic mechanisms which are swinging into play here. Ebay is a facilitator, not a moderator and so should let whatever fanboys, wherever they may be, drop as much money as they like on a PS3 from whichever swindlers want to sell it to them.

    In doing so, Ebay will provide the world with two just services: One, it will allow sheer simpletons spend their money and earn their just rewards - a PS3, yes, and a hole in the bank account. Secondly, this PS3 launch will hopefully impress upon the minds of gamers and companies the next time we come to a console launch.

    Hopefully things will be more ordered and civilized then for the experience of this jaw-dropping PS3 launch.

    What I'd do with $15,000 spare change in my pocket? A hint: A PS3 wouldn't be one of them.