Bots reportedly swoop up pre-orders for Xbox mini-fridges, which sell out in under a minute

(Microsoft Image)

Microsoft opened pre-orders for its new Xbox Series X-themed mini-refrigerator early on Tuesday morning, and according to some reports on social media, they sold out within 30 seconds.

As was announced late last week, pre-orders for the mini-fridge went live early on Tuesday morning, at 6 a.m. PST, through Microsoft’s retail partners Target and GAME. By 6:01 a.m., the handful of customers that managed to get to checkout found that pre-orders had already sold out.

This is less of a testament to the Xbox’s brand popularity, however, than the currently rabid state of the secondary market for collectibles. While Microsoft hasn’t publicly stated how many pre-orders would be available to the public, a significant number of them were grabbed by automated resellers. One boasted on Twitter of using an automated e-commerce bot to scoop up over 160 pre-orders.

Here's why you didnt get an xbox fridge, search KSRautomation and you will bots grabbing them by the dozen ???? pic.twitter.com/GxtI2Lwggf

— Brad Sams (@bdsams) October 19, 2021

At time of writing, over 150 listings for the Xbox mini-fridge are already up on the U.S. eBay site, offering prices between $150 and $1,000 to any buyer who’d like to take over the pre-order. An American customer who’d simply been able to buy their own would’ve only paid $99.99 before tax. The UK version of eBay is similarly flooded with fridge pre-orders at a comparable markup.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that would-be Xbox fridge owners are out of luck. Microsoft had already promised that it would continue to “expand regional availability” in 2022, and the official Xbox Twitter said this morning that another wave of pre-orders will go up in December.

It’s likely to go the same way without proactive anti-bot measures, however. This is the obnoxious status quo for anything even remotely collectible, including the forthcoming Xbox 20th Anniversary Edition controller and the Series X|S itself.

If you’ve tried to buy a new console or video card this year, you know the pain; resellers use bots to get around vendors’ 1-to-a-customer rules, then throw the gear up on auction sites for 200% MSRP. It’s not impossible to break through the bots and grab products like this for yourself, but it’s usually down to sheer dumb luck.

While Microsoft is likely happy with this, as it just sold through its quirkily random product offering, customers are less so. As a result, the mini-fridge page on Target is currently being review-bombed, with 77% one-star ratings out of over 500.

The Xbox fridge was produced by the Las Vegas-based merchandise firm Ukonic. It began as a joke gift for Snoop Dogg last October, and was subsequently made reality as a reward for voters after Xbox won a “Brand Bracket” challenge on Twitter in April.

The official mini-fridge is made to look like an Xbox Series X, complete with a mock-up cooling vent on top and a glowing LED diode that mimics the Series X’s power button. It comes with a USB port on front so you can use the fridge to charge compatible devices, such as an Xbox Elite controller.

The fridge measures 18″ x 9″ x 9″ (462mm x 232mm x 232mm), with a 13.8″ x 6.8″ x 6.8″ (352.3mm x 174mm x 175mm) interior compartment. Fun fact: if you remove the fridge’s two interior shelves, this is big enough that an actual Series X console fits inside the Series X fridge.

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