All of these consoles are pretty hard to find at retailers these days...
Enlarge / All of these consoles are pretty hard to find at retailers these days…

Photo Illustration by Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


As citizens worldwide self-quarantine to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, major retailers are selling out of the Nintendo Switch, leading to second-hand price markups similar to those seen just after the console’s successful launch.

The Switch is currently unavailable at Amazon, GameStop, Walmart, Best Buy, Target, and other major online retailers, though some local stores may still have spotty availability. When new stock does come in to these online stores, it tends to be gone in less than an hour, according to listings from retail tracker NowInStock.

“Nintendo Switch hardware is selling out at various retail locations in the US, but more systems are on the way,” Nintendo said in a statement late last week. “We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Pay the piper

The retail shortages have been reflected in a sharp price markup on Switch sales from secondhand sources. The ten most recent completed eBay listings for a “Brand New” stock Switch console as of this writing had a median sale price of $410, well above the $299.99 MSRP. Just two weeks ago, on March 16, the median sales price for similar “Brand New” eBay listings sampled by Ars came to just $284.

Pre-owned Switch systems are going for a median price around $360 on eBay this morning, compared to about $250 two weeks ago.

On Amazon, third-party resellers are asking a minimum of $460 for a new Switch system, with some offers going up to $500. The lowest third-party price for the system on Walmart.com is currently $482.29.

The retail shortages appear to be having less effect on the exclusively portable Switch Lite, which is available for the MSRP of $199.99 at GameStop as of this writing. Recent sales of the Lite on eBay have gone for a median price of about $220. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles are available for MSRP at multiple retailers and resellers, though some specific bundles can be hard to find at certain stores.

The apparent Switch shortage comes as Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched to over 1.88 million physical sales in its first three days of availability in Japan, according to data from Famitsu. That’s easily the best-selling Switch title ever in the country, and propelled the Switch hardware to its best-ever week of 392,000 sales in the country. Animal Crossing also launched as the fastest-selling Switch game in the UK, though those sales dropped precipitously in the game’s second week.

Online gaming platforms are reporting record demand for their services as players worldwide increase their time at home. Nintendo’s online service went down briefly earlier this month, and Microsoft reported a 775 percent increase in demand for its cloud services, including Xbox Live.

Nintendo has shipped over 52.5 million Switch units through the end of 2019, up from 32 million at the end of 2018. The system has already surpassed the Super NES in terms of raw hardware sales numbers.