NVIDIA kicked off sales of the RTX 3080 earlier today, with the RTX 3080 Founder’s Edition up for sale on its website and over a dozen AIB (add-in board) cards with custom cooling and overclocked designs from the likes of ASUS, MSI, EVGA, Zotac and others hitting major retailers.
But just a few seconds after sales kicked off on NVIDIA’s website (at 6am PT on September 17), the RTX 3080 went out of stock. That was the case over at Amazon, Best Buy, and Newegg, with Newegg noting that it saw more traffic than the morning of Black Friday.
Predictably, a lot of users took to Twitter to vent their frustration regarding the limited availability and the fact that the RTX 3080 sold out barely a few seconds after it went for sale on NVIDIA’s website:
What’s the point of the whole “Notify Me” emails if they didn’t go out with a time for us to buy them or some system to purchase them that isn’t easily targeted by bots?
One second it was Notify Me and then Out of Stock the next. Why wouldn’t you do more to stop scalpers?
— Amber Hamilton 🏳️⚧️ (@ANicHamilton) September 17, 2020
1) Not a single partner who had notifications for launch of the product sent one (that includes your own stores)
2) the nVidia shop went from Notify to sold out in 1.2 seconds
3) You didn’t work with retailers to prevent scalpers
So you want us to buy AMD Cards?
— NotTheOnlyRobert (@rleiper84) September 17, 2020
Immediately thereafter, hundreds of listings for the RTX 3080 started showing up on eBay (as of writing, there are over 600 listings), selling for $2,000 — three times the $699 asking price of the RTX 3080 Founder’s Edition.
There was limited availability of the RTX 3080 to begin with, and NVIDIA didn’t make matters easier by failing to add bot protection on its site. As a result, scalpers were able to use tools like BounceAlerts — an automated bot that allowed resellers to pick up hundreds of RTX 3080 cards ahead of regular customers — to pick up hundreds of cards. As spotted by PCMag, resellers posted screenshots of over a dozen confirmed orders:
— Waves (@YoungWaves_) September 17, 2020
This morning we saw unprecedented demand for the GeForce RTX 3080 at global retailers, including the NVIDIA online store. At 6 a.m. pacific we attempted to push the NVIDIA store live. Despite preparation, the NVIDIA store was inundated with traffic and encountered an error. We were able to resolve the issues and sales began registering normally.
To stop bots and scalpers on the NVIDIA store, we’re doing everything humanly possible, including manually reviewing orders, to get these cards in the hands of legitimate customers.
Over 50 major global retailers had inventory at 6 a.m. pacific. Our NVIDIA team and partners are shipping more RTX 3080 cards every day to retailers.
We apologize to our customers for this morning’s experience.
NVIDIA is now limiting the purchase of RTX 3080 to one unit per customer and is adding bot protection to the site, but an admin of BounceAlerts revealed to PCMag that the tool has measures to “circumvent the protections.” So even if the RTX 3080 goes back on stock at NVIDIA’s site, it is likely to be snatched up by resellers.
An easy step would be to add CAPTCHA for its online orders — NVIDIA does the same on its forums to prevent spam, so it’s unclear why it did not have the same safeguards for its online store. The RTX 3080 is on its way to becoming the best graphics card of this generation for its balance of performance and pricing, but that becomes a moot point if potential customers can’t get their hands on the card without paying a huge markup.
There is a thriving underground reseller market for video cards, and NVIDIA was undoubtedly aware of the same before kicking off orders of the RTX 3080. By not adding measures to prevent bots and limiting the number of orders from a single account, NVIDIA failed to thwart resellers from getting the initial batch of RTX 3080 cards. It now needs to work with retailers and add more safeguards to its site to ensure this isn’t the case once the cards go back on sale.