Out of Frame


About this show

Video essays that explore the intersection of art, culture, and big ideas written & produced by FEE's Director of Media, Sean W. Malone.

No, PS5 Scalpers Aren't Ruining Christmas

December 22, 2020

Support Out of Frame on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/OutofFrameShow

Watch our newest video, "Want to Make Things WORSE? Ban Your Enemies": https://youtu.be/6tVVzM5vmhs

Check out our podcast, Out of Frame: Behind the Scenes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiS5rEmhnLwo1IG9bgr19Og

As we enter peak holiday season, most people have their shopping done by now, but as always, many are scrambling last-minute for their purchases. And if you aren’t one of those early-birds fortunate enough to procure a PS5 or Xbox Series X, you might not be able to find one unless you’re willing to pay $1,200 to a dreaded "scalper".

For a lot of us, that's frustrating. How is it fair for people to buy up the consoles at $500 and sell for nearly double or triple the cost? “There ought to be a law” against that kind of thing — right?

Well, in short, there’s not only nothing wrong with scalping (assuming there's no fraud or theft involved of course) and a lot of benefits to letting resellers on the margins test the boundaries of what people are willing to pay.

Scarcity is real and so is time-preference.

Scalpers (even ones who use bots to get their orders placed early) show that demand for some goods is so high that people are willing to pay several times the list price. And even though scalpers represent a tiny fraction of total sales (around 0.6% by current estimates), their actions can actually provide a lot of information to Sony and Microsoft on how many consoles to produce and where to ship them. But... Everybody hates them anyway.

Manufacturers can also factor this information into their future plans, so there are fewer problems with availability in the future. They could also eliminate incentives for scalpers if they allowed retail stores to set their own prices.

Sound economic theory often leads to conclusions that a lot of people don't like to hear, and this is definitely one of those times so we thought it was worth talking about on this short edition of Out of Frame.


Produced by Sean W. Malone
Written by Jen Maffessanti & Sean W. Malone
Edited by Paul Nelson
Asst. Edited by Jason Reinhardt


-- PS5/XBSX Scalping --






-- Economics --









All Shows

Invisible Hands

Popular YouTube host Kevin Lieber (VSauce2) hosts this informative and entertaining video series designed to introduce key concepts of economics to younger audiences through credible arguments, comedy... And puppets!

Connect with FEE