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Budget-conscious gamers have alternatives to sky high PlayStation prices – Canora Courier



TORONTO — A shortage of video game consoles during the COVID-19 pandemic has been highly lucrative for resellers like Rick Charles.

The 25-year-old project manager has made as much as $500 profit on the sale of each coveted new PlayStation 5.

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“Everyone kind of knew that Sony wasn’t going to be able to produce to demand and when you have guys that are buying 50, 20 at a time, the average retail buyer is not going to have a chance,” he said in an interview.

And so buyers, especially parents before the Christmas holidays, were willing to fork out big bucks for the newest PS5, which retails for $499 or $630, depending on the version, but was going for up to $1,500 a piece on sites such as Facebook’s Marketplace and Kijiji during the height of the lockdowns.

While those prices have since come down to between $750 and $950, it’s still a lot of money for households with limited budgets. However, experts say there are alternative and more affordable ways to quench the thirst for gaming.

Gaming has exploded in popularity during the pandemic as people have more time on their hands and can use the devices to communicate with friends.

In Canada, spending on gaming across PC, console and mobile increased to almost US$2.9 billionin 2020, with gaming forecasted to generate more than $3 billion in 2021, says Morris Garrard, research analyst of mobile tech and gaming at Futuresource Consulting in the U.K.

Ancillary markets such as gaming headsets also saw a boom in demand (for both gaming and working and schooling from home) with shipments in Canada growing by 29 per cent year-over-year in 2020.

The excess demand for new consoles is expected to abate mid-year following new waves of restocks, Garrard said.

Walmart says it is restocking the PS5 online to provide a “fair and equal opportunity” to buy the sought-after item.

“This gives all customers the same access to the larger pool of product and allows us to communicate to all customers at the same time,” spokeswoman Felicia Fefer wrote in an email.

“When we do restock, we prefer to surprise and delight our customers versus provide advanced notice,” she said, adding that there is a limit of one unit per customer.

Nathan Santos, 23, searched online daily for months before he nabbed a unit late one evening from Walmart after several close calls.

“I probably opened the page 15 seconds after that notification went out and already the digital editions were out and so I said I’m not waiting anymore and I bought the disc version,” said the Mississauga, Ont., substitute elementary school teacher.

“I couldn’t believe it. I actually sent a video to a few of my friends on Snapchat basically in shock.”

Santos isn’t a big fan of resellers, whom he accuses of preventing gamers from getting their hands on systems at retail prices.

“I’m not willing to pay several hundred dollars more for this console when I know eventually I’ll be able to get one for retail price.”

The root of the shortages are production challenges that have limited the output of semiconductors chipsets, an issue that is also plaguing the auto industry.

Kris Alexander, assistant professor at Ryerson University’s RTA School of Media, says despite accusations from some quarters of intentional supply restrictions, similar shortages have affected previous versions of PlayStation and other systems such as Xbox Series X and S.

“There’s no confirmation of whether or not this has been done purposefully but there is a timeline of it happening with the PS2, the PS3, the PS4 and now the PS5,” he said.

The self-described professor of video games said you don’t necessarily have to be rich to enjoy the hobby, as some free games are available online and older consoles can be purchased used.

“I have never had the money to buy a console in its first release year, except the 1999 Sega Dreamcast,” Alexander said, adding that he still plays the old Wii U with his children.

“If we can just tilt away from hype for a second, we can see there’s a plethora of games for free, many by AAA companies that you can play for free right now.”

The library is also a good place to find some games for free, said Kent Sikstrom, community relations manager for Kijiji Canada, which saw a 372 per cent increase in searches for the term PlayStation during the first few weeks of its availability last fall.

That initial surge of excitement was also seen with other gaming systems from Xbox and the Nintendo Switch.

In addition to searching for new PS5s, there’s also been an increase in demand for refurbished and used systems as people who have struggled during the pandemic search for deals.

Some companies offer video game rental subscription services and older games can be traded in for a new title.

“So you can still play the latest games, one game at a time, for a monthly subscription fee, which is far cheaper than let’s say $100 a pop for the newest game.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 11, 2021.

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries



Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .


(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver



EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)


(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum



Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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