It almost seems like a certainty in online purchasing in the pandemic new normal: A gaming or gaming-related item goes on sale, quickly sells out on the original retail website, only to show up later on reseller sites for exorbitant prices. Razer's Zephyr RGB masks are the latest unwitting entrants in this unfortunate series.
PC Gaming and Accessory company Razer created an elaborate mask touted as a wearable air purifier and "the world's smartest mask." The concept of the mask was revealed during CES 2021 as the world was still firmly in the grasps of the coronavirus pandemic. The masks have N95-rated filters, a clear anti-fog front, and LED lights for clear communication for people that want to or need to read lips and are reusable. Only nine months later, the conceptual mask has made it to production and Razer began selling the masks on October 21 for $99.99.
The masks quickly ran through the cycle that new drops of hot electronics go through as scalpers gobble up the initial stock and promptly resell them at exorbitant markups. The Razer Zephyr is now on eBay on average around the $300 - $400 mark. One outlier listing price is as high as $500 for the "confirmed pre-order". Razer released a statement that more masks will be made available on October 27th, and as of writing, there is a queue with a wait time of at least 30 minutes.
The plight of dealing with scalpers and the bots they use continues to be a contentious issue for online storefronts. It doesn't seem like many places manage to get it right when it comes to fighting off scalpers. Valve's method of taking a deposit under a Steam account with history seems to be one of only a few success stories.
What makes this newest installment a bit cathartic is the fact that the world has slowly begun moving on from the pandemic, or at least finding its way through dealing with daily life that involves masking up. These scalpers may end up holding the bag for a product that people may not need or want. The Zephyr RGB is listed as an "air purifier" and not a medical device, even with the KN95-rated filters. On the other hand, those that could utilize the clear screen are disadvantaged. The LEDs also make for a decent prop for EDM concerts as the lights seem to go with that aesthetic. A pricy accessory, but a potential option that's now out of reach to that audience.
Razer Zephyr is currently available for purchase.
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