Tech

Nvidia’s Failed RTX 3080 Launch – Bots, Scalpers, and Lies

By Alex Dulcianu / September 19, 2020

Nvidia finds itself in hot water with its fan base after the disastrous launch of their new RTX 3080 card yesterday. After making a huge deal about how powerful the new RTX 3080 is and how there should be enough of them for everyone, it seems like barely any cards made it to the shelves on September 17th.

Things got so bad that Nvidia had to address the situation directly, although the best they could come up with was something along the lines of ‘we did not expect this kind of interest in our new product’.

That’s clearly just a standard PR move of no substance, and everyone and their grandma can tell you that’s simply not true.

Scalpers, Bots, and Low Stocks Across the Board

Most people had the same experience with this launch, which can be summarized as follows:

  1. Cards being listed as “Coming Soon” a few minutes before the official release hour
  2. Cards being listed as “Sold Out” a few seconds after that

This was true for almost every major online retailer around the world, including stores like Best Buy and Newegg. However, Nvidia’s own online store experienced the same issues - and that’s pretty much the only way you can buy the Founder’s Edition of the RTX 3080.

A lot of people complained about bots and scalpers buying the entire stock before anyone had a chance to purchase a card, and there is some truth to this.

First off, Nvidia itself came out with a statement saying that they are manually reviewing every purchase in order to spot scalpers and bots. Obviously, this only applies to the Founder’s Edition and their official store, because none of the other retailers seemed to care about this issue.

nvidia-rtx-3080-statement

Nvidia's response regarding low stocks and scalpers.

Second, Ebay was full of RTX 3080 listings only minutes after the launch, which means that scalpers really did manage to get their hands on the new cards. Speaking of which, the bids for these listings got out of hand pretty quickly, with some of them going for as much as $60,000. You can still find some of them being sold for $15,000:

Nvidia RTX 3080 Ebay

RTX 3080s being sold for $15,000

We believe no one is stupid enough to pay that much for a graphics card, however, and that it was most likely a ploy to troll the scalpers and prevent them from actually selling their stocks.

The funny thing is that Nvidia decided to not allow pre orders for the RTX 3080 exactly for this reason, according to them. It seems like their plan backfired horribly, to say the least.

Nvidia’s Own Store Did Not Go Live at the Scheduled Time

Perhaps the most infuriating thing about this whole mess of a launch was the fact that Nvidia’s own store did not start selling the cards at the scheduled time. Instead, most people were still seeing the default “Coming Soon” message, which went on for hours.

When the page finally did change, it just went directly to “Out of Stock” for most people, leading many to believe that Nvidia never actually had them in stock to begin with. We don’t believe that’s the case, but it’s definitely true that the company had way too few of them.

There’s also the fact that the world’s largest retailer, Amazon.com, also didn’t sell any RTX 3080 cards yesterday. In fact, they were not even listed if you tried searching for them, which is very weird to say the least.

Many people went on Amazon.de instead, where a single Zotac RTX 3080 model was listed. The card was available for backorder only, however, so many people have to potentially wait for weeks in order to receive their GPU. That listing is no longer available, by the way, so you can’t get it anymore.

So Was this a ‘Paper Launch’?

Nvidia CEO Reddit Meme

Reddit users are already making memes about the RTX 3080 launch.

It didn’t take long for fans on Reddit to call this a paper launch, especially since it was quickly becoming obvious that no one was able to get a card. If you are not familiar with the term, a paper launch is when a tech company releases a product to the public before actually having it in stock, just so they can showcase their superior tech and outshine the competition in terms of marketing and PR.

The obvious reason for this tactic is to keep the spotlight away from AMD, which is also planning on releasing their RDNA2 (or ‘Big Navi’) GPU architecture sometime next month. The attractive price-to-performance ratio of the new RTX 3080 is also a bit sketchy, especially since the announced $699 price was only true for the Founder’s Edition.

Aftermarket cards from Asus, EVGA, and MSI are actually a bit more expensive, and that’s not including the generous markups added by many retailers while trying to take advantage of the massive hype surrounding this launch.

So was this a paper launch, or are people exaggerating? Well, it’s actually difficult to argue against it, especially since we are nearing the end of the second day after the official launch date, and yet it’s still next-to-impossible to find any RTX 3080 in stock. We can’t say for sure, but it certainly doesn’t look good.

What Can We Expect In the Following Weeks?

Unless Nvidia really steps up its production, it’s actually very likely that this situation is going to repeat itself the next time stores are restocked, especially if no anti-bot measures are implemented until then.

According to them, Nvidia is already shipping more cards to retailers every day, even though very few of them actually make it to customers for some reason. It’s also worth remembering that the first RTX launch 2 years ago was very similar, and it took awhile for things to stabilize in terms of supply and demand.

On the other hand, it should be interesting to see what happens next week when the RTX 3090 launches, and next month when the much less expensive RTX 3070 is supposed to land. If this launch is any indication, RTX 3070 buyers are really going to have a hard time getting one of those cards.



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