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Over the past 12 months, electronics retailers have come under increasing fire for mishandling sales of brand new consoles and high-end PC components. This week, online retailer Newegg has developed a special new system for selling electronics with high demand and low supply: the Newegg Shuffle. (Or, as the site's metadata calls it, the Newegg Popular Product Lottery Queue.)
If you read this article early enough on Friday, January 22nd, consider this a suggestion to rush to the website by 5:00 p.m. (CET) and submit a product purchase inquiry. Really: Do this now if you are interested in the latest AMD CPUs, Nvidia GPUs or the fully digital PlayStation 5. Try it for free. Well wait
OK, this process could have been a little confusing. What's wrong with the Newegg Shuffle?
Shuffle into a forced bundle? Not necessarily, but probably
The list of primary purchase options.
However, once you click on one, you will be given more options. Some are, as you would expect, the standard à la carte option. Otherwise, more expensive bundles are more expensive thanks to forced motherboard additions.
And some of the options hide the fact that they are only offered as a bundle.
Lottery ticket confirmed. Now we wait a few hours – and then we have a fair amount of time to confirm a purchase.
The Newegg Shuffle buzz started earlier this week when savvy shoppers noticed a limited-time lottery event of the same name in messages sent to a limited pool of Newegg customers. Various CPUs and graphics cards were advertised, and the entry page had a sales pitch: choose what you want to buy, log into your established Newegg customer profile, and submit an inquiry. If you do so at some point, you will be notified within a few hours if your account has been selected to purchase one of the products you have selected. (That said, you could try signing up for each or just one entry without the selection apparently changing your chances of being randomly selected.)
The problems with this early test, however, were angry customers sharing pictures of what the shopping interface actually looked like. After clicking the list for a shiny new AMD processor or Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics card, you'll be presented with the real shopping option: a forced package. Every single option seemed to require purchasing a brand new motherboard, even if you didn't need one. This was particularly outrageous with the graphics cards from Nvidia, which are compatible with the current PCI-e 3.0 standard and therefore do not require a new motherboard for interested PC gamers.
When Newegg was made aware of this anti-consumer campaign for forced bundles by PC Mag, he made it clear that the shuffle feature is still in "beta". The action would reduce enforced bundles once it is available to all customers. The Newegg Shuffle launch on Friday confirmed that – but there are still some forced bundles left.
The two AMD CPUs available today, the Ryzen 5 5600X and Ryzen 7 5800X, can be purchased as standalone options. However, they are additionally listed with bundles, and that means that if you are ready to hook up a motherboard purchase to the CPU, then you can essentially better buy them from Newegg. The same applies to one of the GPUs in the promotion, an ASUS variant of the RTX 3070, which can be purchased either à la carte or with an included ASUS motherboard.
Three more GPUs will appear in the action. Two of these can only be purchased à la carte, and one, the ASUS RTX 3080, can only be purchased with an included ASUS motherboard (for a staggering $ 1,179.98).
The fully digital PlayStation 5 on offer can only be purchased as part of a bundle. With an additional controller (safe), a 1080p webcam (meh) and a media remote control (ugh), the normal price of $ 399 can be increased by a staggering $ 160. . There are some serious GameStop vibes, and not in a good way.
Microsoft is taking the lead in this area
The worst thing about Newegg Shuffle is that it is arguably the best system on the market right now for interested PC parts buyers. Otherwise, best known to Twitter accounts and online buying guides to see exactly when high-end computer components and consoles are in stock. Since retailers seem completely uninterested in this, let's pre-order these things and put them on a queue to buy.
The only exception to this madness seems to be the Xbox Series X / S. Microsoft has developed a somewhat scalable purchasing system with Xbox All Access. When you combine a monthly subscription price with a dedicated Xbox account (and mailing address), you get a shiny new Xbox. Such systems are a problem for scalpers to own the account with. (As a bonus, purchasing a Series X / S this way can save you money compared to buying the hardware and associated subscription prices at retail prices.)
By the time we see more retailers accepting customer verification systems, purchase limits, and anti-scalper measures, we will likely see more funky "lottery" systems like Neweggs that include predatory bundle lure offers.