While Nintendo Switches may not be medically essential items during the coronavirus pandemic, they certainly are a choice way to keep people occupied as they wait out the disease cooped up in their homes — and price gougers have noticed.
Opportunistic sellers on Amazon have jacked up prices for Nintendo’s hit console by more than 52 percent since March 13, when shutdowns over the coronavirus pandemic began to hit the U.S., according to data-gathering site Thinknum.
The average price now on Amazon — one of the few places left on the internet where a stuck-at-home person can still buy a Switch — is now $452, far exceeding Nintendo’s $299 retail price. Several retailers even list the gaming device for $482 or more, according to the data.
“Amazon’s third-party marketplace allows people to do this,” Thinknum editor-in-chief Joshua Fruhlinger told Digital Trends.
The price gouging wasn’t limited to just one-off anonymous sellers who were listing the Switch and opportunistically jacking up the price, he added. Some of the predatory sellers had thousands of reviews or were listed as “Amazon bestsellers” or even Prime vendors.
The Switch is currently sold on out Nintendo’s official site, as well as other common electronics and game retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Gamestop.
Prices have held steady at $299 at these retailers, but they lack any supply. Listings on eBay appeared to average even higher, with many devices selling for $500 or more.
Amazon has seen a similar kind of price gouging before — though not to the same degree — when it came to sales of N95 face masks last December and January as coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, spread. In February, Amazon reportedly shut down over 1 million listings over price hiking in response to coronavirus fears, according to a report from ZDNet.
A spokesperson for Amazon told Digital Trends in an email, “Sellers set their own product prices in our store and we have policies to help ensure sellers are pricing their products competitively. We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies. We have implemented additional measures to keep prices low and our global teams are working 24/7 to monitor prices in our store.”
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