Microsoft launches Xbox reservation program for scalper-free upgrades

The Xbox Series X and Series S just became a little easier to find. If you're lucky enough to be invited to the Console Purchase Pilot, that is.

Nearly half a year after its release, the Xbox Series X is still all but impossible to find, thanks to a winning combination of supply chain issues, spotty re-stocks, and, of course, scalpers. Microsoft is finally starting up a new program that should hopefully make it slightly easier to find a new Xbox.

The new program, which is aptly named the Console Purchase Pilot, will be open to Xbox Insiders — the company’s free beta testing platform — in the U.S. at launch. Not all Xbox Insiders will be able to join the program right away; Xbox says only a “small audience” will be invited to join. Members of the Xbox Insider program can check the Insider Hub on their existing Xbox console or Windows 10 to see if they’ve received an invite.

After signing up, gamers will have the option of receiving an alert when an Xbox is available for purchase. Then, of course, they’ll have to actually jump on that chance before all the consoles have been taken. That’s still a much better chance than customers have when fending for themselves.

So very limited — The Console Purchase Pilot is not for everyone. In fact, it’s not even for all Xbox Insiders; only a “subset” of Insiders has been invited thus far.

Once you have successfully signed up, you’ll be able to select whether you’re interested in the flagship Xbox Series X or its smaller sibling, the Series S. You can also choose for the program to alert you for whichever becomes available first. At that point you can only purchase the new Xbox through the Insider Hub. Microsoft clarified on Reddit that this purchase can be made via the Windows 10 version of the hub, too.

What about everyone else? — The Console Purchase Pilot program is going to be most useful for exactly one type of person: an Xbox One console owner looking to upgrade to the Series X or Series S. The chances you’re a member of the Insider program and don’t own a previous-gen Xbox is pretty low.

For that specific subset of gamers, the new program will be a useful way of upgrading without relying on the scattered stock drops being utilized by retailers right now. Those are often plagued by scalpers looking to buy up stock and make a quick buck — whereas this direct program cuts out the chance of scalpers buying the consoles at all.

Because it’s so limited right now, the Console Purchase Pilot isn’t going to solve stock issues overall — not even close. But hey, it’s more than Sony’s done for the PlayStation 5, and eventually it could roll out to a wider consumer base, with far fewer Xboxes ending up on the resale market.