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.
“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.
Nigeria launches eNaira amid hope, scepticism – and plenty of uncertainty
Nigeria on Monday became the first African nation to launch a digital currency – the eNaira – a move its leaders said will expand access to banking, enable more remittances and even grow the economy by billions of dollars.
Africa’s most populous nation joins the Bahamas, the first to launch a general purpose central bank digital currency, known as the Sand Dollar, in October. China has ongoing trials and Switzerland and the Bank of France have announced Europe’s first cross-border experiment.
But experts and cryptocurrency users in the continent’s biggest economy say the fact that there are more questions than answers regarding the eNaira – and a large amount of worry over the consistency of Central Bank (CBN) rules – means the government faces a tough path to make the eNaira a success.
Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said during Monday’s launch that there had been “overwhelming interest and encouraging response”, adding that 33 banks, 2,000 customers and 120 merchants had already registered successfully with the platform, which is available via an app on Apple and Android.
Some 200 million nairas’ worth of eNaira, which will maintain parity with the traditional currency, has been issued to financial institutions, he said. President Muhammadu Buhari said use of the currency could grow the economy by $29 billion over ten years, enable direct government welfare payments and even increase the tax base.
Nigeria’s young, tech-savvy population has eagerly adopted digital currencies. Cryptocurrency use has grown quickly despite a Central Bank ban in February on banks and financial institutions dealing in or facilitating transactions in them.
Nigeria ranked seventh in the 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index compiled by research firm Chainalysis. Official digital currencies, unlike crytocurrencies such as bitcoin, are backed and controlled by the central bank.
But some of what drove Nigeria’s enthusiastic adoption of cryptocurrencies was the Central Bank’s own shifting rules regarding accessing foreign currency – and the naira’s plunging value on parallel markets that saw savings shrink.
“It’s not clear looking at the CBN’s body of work that Nigerians would be comfortable using this,” said Ikemesit Effiong, head of research with Lagos-based consultancy SBM Intelligence.
He added that the CBN had not yet made clear whether users could transfer eNaira back into traditional naira, whether they could use cryptocurrency to buy or sell the eNaira or even whether there would be physical locations to use and transfer eNaira, or whether it would be entirely digital.
“There are more questions than answers, even though we are looking at the launch of this digital currency. The fact that this is the case so late in the game is concerning,” he told Reuters.
The CBN issued a nine-page FAQ, which said eNaira users would access it via the phone app, internet banking or a code dialled from mobile phones, but it did not address transferability or other questions raised by Effiong.
Only three local television channels were allowed to attend the launch, and officials took no questions.
For 28-year-old Ebuka Joseph, an art dealer and enthusiastic cryptocurrency user in the commercial capital, Lagos, the uncertainty means he will stay on the sidelines, for now.
His concerns centre on whether he would easily be able to change eNaira back into normal currency.
“I have had issues trusting the central bank … because they have already banned crypto,” he told Reuters. “I want to hear from people, see people use it, before I venture into it.”
(Reporting by Libby George; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou returns to work in Shenzhen, after extradition drama – Global Times
Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei Technologies, returned to work at the tech giant’s headquarters in Shenzhen on Monday after almost three years fighting extradition to the U.S. in Canada, state-backed Chinese newspaper Global Times reported.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, completed three weeks of quarantine last week after returning to the southern city of Shenzhen where a crowd of well-wishers chanting patriotic slogans awaited her at the airport.
“Over the last three years, although we have struggled, we have overcome obstacles and our team has fought with more and more courage,” she said in a speech at an internal company event that was circulated online.
The extradition drama had been a central source of discord between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signalling that the case had to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate.
Meng was detained in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.
She was allowed to go home after reaching an agreement https://www.reuters.com/technology/huawei-cfo-meng-appear-court-expected-reach-agreement-with-us-source-2021-09-24 with U.S. prosecutors last month to end a bank fraud case against her.
(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
Here’s what Google says about Pixel 6 features coming to older Pixels – Android Authority
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
- Google has told Android Authority that it aims to bring as many Pixel 6 features to older Pixels as possible.
- The company added that porting some features will require “additional technical investments.”
One thing that you can count on with new Pixel flagship launches is that at least some of the newest features will come to older Pixel phones. We saw that with the astrophotography mode, Cinematic Pan option, and Call Screening, to name a few.
The Pixel 6 range is a slighty different case though, as Google is leaning heavily on its in-house Tensor processor for some of these features. These features include Live Translate, Motion Mode, and more. Now, Google has revealed whether some Pixel 6 features could come to older devices.
“Some technologies will require additional technical investments, such as Live Translate, as our on-device language models are engineered to run on Pixel 6’s proprietary Tensor chip on TPU (which older Pixel models don’t have),” the representative continued.
“We currently do not have a firm date for rollout to older Pixels at this point in time, but stay tuned for future announcements.”
In other words, it seems like Google is well aware that it will need to work on finding ways to port some of the latest Pixel 6 features to the older Pixels. But we’re guessing that the transition to custom silicon could mean some new features simply don’t make it to older Pixels. Here’s hoping Google proves us wrong.
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