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Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Christoph Dernbach/picture alliance via Getty Images

Microsoft is testing a better way to sell its Xbox Series X and S consoles in an attempt to make the process of buying a next-gen gaming machine less ridiculous.

Why it matters: Six months since their release, the new Xbox and rival PlayStation 5 remain extremely difficult to find, and shoppers have had few options but to frantically refresh online retail websites.

  • Microsoft and Sony occasionally sell the new consoles on their websites, but buying from them or major online retailers has involved waiting in long digital queues and trying to outclick bots or scalpers.

The new Xbox plan will keep the transaction loop within the Xbox platform, a process that may offer more predictability and could also sidestep scalpers.

  • The idea is simple: People let Microsoft know via an app on the older Xbox One that they want a next-gen machine, and they'll be notified through that console that a Series X or S has been reserved for them.
  • Microsoft is offering the plan to members of the Xbox Insiders group and warns that "not all who register will be selected," as it draws from an allocation of units that would otherwise be sold through the Microsoft store.
  • It's not quite the dream of letting people just put a down payment on a machine and getting one when it's ready, but it's closer.

What they're saying: "[T]he feedback we receive from Insiders will inform whether we roll out the pilot more broadly," a Microsoft rep told Axios.

Image: Nintendo

Wario64, an enigmatic Twitter user with nearly a million followers regularly posts listings for console restocks from GameStop, Amazon, and others. He says the supply and demand situation seems to be getting worse.

  • "Early this year, I'd say there was always a restock each week," Wario64 told Axios. "The past 2 months, it's more like once a month from each of the retailers it feels like. There's been some weeks with no restocks at all in the past month or two, which seems to indicate that production is very strained."
  • He said Amazon restocks are the least frequent and Target's tend to happen at inconveniently early times for west coast shoppers.
  • GameStop's deals often involve higher-priced bundles.

He likes the new Xbox program. It "sounds like a good step to ensure the consoles are going to the right people," he said.

  • Wario64 said Microsoft's other efforts to sell directly on its website have led to quick sellouts, but seemingly had little protection against bots.

As for the PS5, he noted that Sony has done a lot of restocks of its PlayStation Direct program, including yesterday.

  • That puts online users in a queue, hoping they beat the scalpers.
  • As Wario64 tends to warn their followers: "5 minute warning to join the PS Direct queue… 35 minutes until pain."

Wario64 declined to share any details about himself when asked ("no lol") but said he's tired of all these blink-and-you-miss it deals.

  • "I just wished the drought could be done."

Go deeper

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

51 people unaccounted for after Miami-area condo collapse

A view of the crumpled portion of the 12-story condo tower on June 24 in Surfside, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A massive search and rescue operation is underway after a portion of a 12-story condo building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed early Thursday morning, according to AP.

The latest: 51 people who were "supposedly residing" in the building at the time of the collapse have not yet been accounted for, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman said on CNN Thursday morning.

CDC extends final eviction moratorium for 30 days

People and students from Worker's Circle of Boston and members of City Life Vida Urbana protest to stop evictions during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Biden administration has issued a 30-day extension to the temporary halt in residential evictions, the CDC announced on Thursday.

Why it matters: The eviction moratorium, implemented to prevent a wave of evictions caused by pandemic-related economic decline, was scheduled to expire on June 30.

Pacific Northwest soon to be ground zero for record-shattering heat

Computer model projection showing the unusually strong heat dome over the Pacific Northwest on Sunday. (PivotalWeather).

A heat wave is bringing unprecedented high temperatures to the Pacific Northwest — a region of the country typically cooled by the ocean, rather than central air conditioning. The heat will begin Friday and last into early next week.

Why it matters: The heat wave will shatter monthly and all-time temperature records in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the records could break the old milestones by several degrees.