The same dilemma faces everyone who is looking for an Xbox Series X or Series S right now. It is a challenge to find a pattern for when these consoles will be available at all from the different retailers, and there’s always a race against the bots to complete a purchase if you do happen to find one. Retailers have been struggling to locate the best solution for getting a console in the hands of actual humans instead of resellers using software to make a quick buy. Target is the latest to roll out an internal policy change for selling consoles, moving from slower big-batch restocks to making the console available anytime there’s one up for sale in your area.
This policy change, which was leaked to Twitter gaming deals expert @Wario64 earlier this week, states, “Target employees have been notified that starting May 18th, Xbox Series S/X consoles can be purchased online for store pickup as inventory arrives.” This means if an Xbox arrives at your local store, you’ll be able to see it right away on the website or the app and be able to pick it up later that day.
Avoiding a steep price hike or a costly bundle with accessories you might not want is just as important as finding the Xbox for sale in the first place. We’ve got a few tips for helping you find what you want without the added cost.
Why is the Xbox Series X so hard to find?
Essentially, Microsoft can’t get the materials it needs to make enough Xbox consoles to meet demand. Like the PS5 and most PC video cards, there’s a chip shortage right now. COVID-19 saw a lot of chip manufacturers unable to produce things like processors and video cards for a while, and it’s currently not expected to be entirely resolved until the end of the year.
As a result, Microsoft makes as many as it can and distributes them among its retail partners. Each retail partner releases its available consoles in whatever way it deems appropriate. Most of the time, this means announcing ahead of time when you will be able to buy the console online and then releasing it for anyone to purchase.
In the last week, these are the retailers with Xbox Series X releases:
Microsoft, May 17: This Xbox Series X restock happened through the new Console Purchase Pilot program, which you could only participate in if you are a part of the Xbox Insiders program. More details on this below.Lenovo, May 16: This was not a previously announced update, but there were a handful of Xbox Series X consoles available for a little while at their normal price. Antonline, May 14: A surprise drop on this site made it possible for shoppers to score an Xbox, but only for about 30 minutes.BJ’s Wholesale, May 12: This Xbox Series X restock was only available to BJ’s customers with existing accounts, and did not last long.
Expect more updates here as they happen.
A new era of Xbox is here
What is the Console Purchase Pilot program?
Microsoft has made it possible for people who participate in the Xbox Insiders program to form a virtual queue that guarantees you will be offered a legit Xbox console at the regular price once one is available through Microsoft. The only way to participate in this very limited program is to own an Xbox already, so you can join the Xbox Insiders program and be invited to sign up for this Console Purchase Pilot.
At the moment, registration for the pilot is closed, but Microsoft claims it will reopen the registration soon. While you wait, it’s probably a good idea to join Xbox Insiders.
How do I join the Xbox Insider program?
Microsoft’s internal program for giving fans early access to things it’s testing out offers a lot of neat things to poke around with, even without this early access program for buying a new Xbox. Paradoxically, for some, in order to join this program you need to be logged in to an Xbox with your own account.
1. Open the Xbox Store.
2. Search for insider.
3. Select the Xbox Insider Bundle app.
4. Select Join when you open the app.
Nothing you do within the Xbox Insider program is permanent. If you decide you don’t want to be notified when test features are available, you can remove yourself from the Xbox Insider program at any time. The Settings page in the Insider Hub app on your Xbox will allow you to remove your Xbox from the program through the Manage Devices section. Just remove your Xbox, and the Insider program will stop. When will the Xbox Series X be restocked in the US?
When will the Xbox Series X be in stock this week?Last restock: May 16 at 11:59 p.m. ET Next restock: May 23 at 11:59 p.m. ETConfidence level: Pretty confident
Microsoft loves a midnight release, and the Xbox Series X and Series S restocks have been reliably following a pattern for some time now. This past week, instead of making the consoles publicly available on the website like usual, the Console Purchase Pilot program was used to give Xbox Insiders an orderly line to buy from. This means access is somewhat limited, but if Microsoft continues this tool, it will be much less stressful to actually buy an Xbox.
While other retailers are less reliable in their restock patterns, there are a few you could set a calendar notification for just in case:
Target: Target is no longer going to do mass restocks like many other retailers have been doing, so you’ll need to just refresh regularly to see when it comes in stock near you. Walmart: Returns from the week may appear over the weekend, making it possible to pick one up without a hefty price increase.Newegg: Technically in stock right now, but at prices you really shouldn’t pay.How to increase your chances of getting an Xbox Series X when a restock happens
It can be a little chaotic, constantly refreshing the screen and hoping you see a checkout link. And as many can attest, it’s pretty painful to punch in your payment information only to see that the purchase won’t complete because everything is already gone. Here are some of our tips:
Open multiple browsers: Got a laptop? A phone? Maybe a tablet? Use them all to try to make the purchase. Set yourself up ahead of time with multiple browsers open to the retail site of your choice and be ready to buy from all of them. Don’t give up: Many of these retailers have started releasing the consoles over the course of 30 minutes, to keep bots from buying them all and reselling them at a price increase. If you see everything sold out after the first five minutes, keep refreshing because your chances probably aren’t gone yet. Make sure you have a confirmation email: There have been many reports of a purchase getting “stuck” and even though the website said the sale was complete no confirmation email arrived and then no Xbox arrived. Keep an eye out and make sure you actually have an Xbox Series X headed your way before celebrating. How to avoid Xbox Series X restock scams
Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks out there eager to take advantage of everyone trying to get an Xbox Series X. Here’s how to avoid the known scams:
Stay away from Twitter links: If you see something on Twitter about an Xbox Series X restock happening somewhere, your best bet is to go straight to the retailer instead of clicking a link. In many cases, those Twitter links have turned out to be scams. Only buy at the retail price: If someone is offering you an Xbox Series X for more or less than $500 or an Xbox Series S for more or less than $300, you should probably stay away. There are many of these sites offering “deals” or “bundles” that are frequently not actually worth it.
Xbox Series X: Check inventory restock
Amazon is selling both the Xbox Series X and the less expensive Series S from this product page.
This is Target’s product page for the Xbox Series X.
Best Buy was the last retailer standing back in the preorder days, but now stands ready for your Xbox Series X purchase as inventory allows.
GameStop has in the past touted a “very limited number of Xbox Series X and S console bundles for purchase” but is currently sold out.
If you want to get the latest on the Xbox Series X, there’s probably nowhere better than Microsoft’s own Xbox Series X homepage. Here you’ll find the latest specs, announced game titles, details on the new controller and more.
Walmart does a solid job of noting availability windows for PS5 and Xbox on its Twitter feed. You might also want to visit the retailer’s Xbox landing page for both new consoles.
This is where you can purchase the Xbox Series X at Newegg when the retailer has inventory.
Are you already getting desperate? Are you willing to pay a premium of hundreds of dollars over the list price? Listen, we wouldn’t do this and we don’t recommend you do it, either. But if you want to take that path, StockX is a reputable eBay-style site that will let you buy and sell new Xbox and PS5 models — as long as you’re willing to pay upward of $600.
To be clear, we highly recommend waiting for inventory to appear at ordinary retailers, so you can buy an Xbox Series X at the regular retail price. But if you’ve decided you simply can’t wait another moment, the average Xbox Series X price on eBay is about $700.
This story is updated frequently with the latest Xbox Series X inventory news.
Xbox Series X and Series S offer a fine-tuned, streamlined…
Get all the latest deals delivered to your inbox.
CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest promo codes from Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon and more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page.