The past 24 hours have seen two online shopping fiascos in the world of games. First there were the PlayStation 5 pre-orders that Sony said would start today, only for retailers to suddenly open the floodgates a short while later. Then, early this morning, Nvidia and its manufacturing partners put up the first wave of highly desired RTX 3080 graphics cards up for sale. Nvidia's store crashed, and once it came back it seemed that the disruption opened a window for scalpers and bots to capitalize on.
In a post to Nvidia's official GeForce forums, an Nvidia representative has issued an apology for the early morning site crash along with a promise—Nvidia says it's trying to make sure its Founders Edition cards are doled out to people who actually want to use them.
"This morning we saw unprecedented demand for the GeForce RTX 3080 at global retailers, including the NVIDIA online store," says Nvidia. At 6 a.m. PT, the Nvidia listing for the RTX 3080 Founders Edition went live, only to crash a short while later after being "inundated with traffic" in the rush.
"To stop bots and scalpers on the NVIDIA store, we're doing everything humanly possible, including manually reviewing orders, to get these cards in the hands of legitimate customers," Nvidia adds.
With pages selling out instantly and price-hiked eBay listings popping up in the minutes after sales went live, concern over scalpers is certainly warranted. There's a good chance that bots also played a role in bringing down Nvidia's site and clearing out stocks at others, likely used by PC gamers, scalpers, and folks primarily interested in cryptocurrency mining alike.
To folks more acquainted with the console market, the rush on Nvidia's new $699 graphics card may seem extreme, but the 3080 is competitively priced for a high-end graphics card and has been pitched as one of the biggest generational leaps in GPU architecture to-date. Subsequent hands-on benchmark testing from Digital Foundry and others has indeed shown that the 3080 provides a huge leap in performance over even last year's RTX 20 Series "Super" refresh.
With Nvidia's staggered release schedule for the 30 Series cards, we may be in for a repeat of this morning's retail chaos again soon. Next month will see the launch of the 3070, a more affordable $499 card that still boasts impressive capabilities for running games at 4K with ray tracing effects enabled. Nvidia says that more 3080 cards are being shipped to retailers every day. Let's hope that's true for the 3070 cards too.
While we're at it, here's hoping retailers are more prepared for next-gen Xbox pre-orders, as well as any pre-release PS5 restocks. For some, it'll be a hectic few weeks of mashing the refresh button otherwise.