Xbox 360 scalpers clean up on eBay

Microsoft's new system a hot item online, but exactly who's willing to pay $3,000 for an Xbox 360?

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Ever since the insanity of the 2000 PlayStation 2 launch and reports of online auctions for the desired system reaching into the thousands of dollars, new system launches have become a big event for entrepreneurial capitalists as much as gamers.

The Xbox 360 launch is no exception, with widespread reports of inevitable launch-day shortages leading up to the big day. While a fair number of clearly bogus or unrealistic listings are already up on eBay (one auction started at $100,000 with a Buy it Now price of $150,000 and asked $20 for shipping and handling), more legit auctions still reached pretty lofty heights.

A look at the soon-ending auctions this morning showed premium Xbox 360s generally closing at $600-$700, with core systems going for about $500. There were some aberrations; one auction for an Xbox 360 premium system on its own reached $1,750, while a core system auction reached as high as $790.

Clearly the demand for 360s is huge, so much so that even Microsoft's competition isn't immune to the hype surrounding the system launch. On Monday, one Sony executive who wished to remain anonymous paid $3,000 for a premium Xbox 360 system on eBay. The auction was for one of the first 10 Xbox 360 North American systems, originally given away at E3 as part of a contest sponsored by Mountain Dew. The exec's $3,000 Buy it Now bid netted him the system, a certificate of authenticity, a copy of Kameo: Elements of Power, a limited-edition E3 Xbox 360 faceplate, and perhaps many months of having to live down comments from his teasing coworkers.

However, as great as the demand is, the supply of systems on eBay is almost as staggering. There are thousands of listings for the unit on the auction site, many of which are going without bids due to high reserves or starting prices. But don't rush to mortgage the house just yet. As these machines fail to sell, as launch-day insanity becomes a fading memory, and as future shipments of the system reach retail, the prices are all but certain to come down.

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