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Xbox Series X restock: Microsoft trying new ways to buy?

Microsoft's Sunday night Xbox restock is starting to look a little different.

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Everyone looking for an Xbox Series X or Series S right now is faced with the same dilemma. It's challenging to find a pattern to when these consoles will be available at all from the different retailers, and even when you do find some it's a race against the bots to complete a purchase. Microsoft has started testing a new Console Purchase Pilot program to avoid constant refreshing, but other retailers are either resorting to Xbox Series S bundles to keep bots from reselling at a markup and third-party sellers from ramping the price up. We're here to help you avoid the more costly route.

Microsoft's new system allows you to register for a chance to reserve an Xbox Series X or Series S, and anyone who's already a part of the Xbox Insiders program can find a registration link to the Console Purchase Pilot. That means you get first dibs when a restock happens through Microsoft, but spots are limited. If you're not a part of the Xbox Insiders program now, you're unlikely to be able to join this program right away. In a statement on Reddit, Microsoft made it clear the first wave of people who asked to join this pilot have been invited and registration will open back up sometime soon.

For those still in need of an Xbox Series console and no interest in a bundle, there are ways to improve your chances of scoring one. The best place to start is bookmarking your preferred retailer and checking for stock on a regular basis. More stock doesn't regularly appear at random, but if someone cancels an order or returns a console unopened you may find yourself lucky. (All the major retailer stores are listed and linked below.) This will give you a jump on the competition. If you're waiting for an announced restock of the Xbox Series X or S, your best bet is to prepare with as many browsers and devices as you have on hand. On a desktop, for instance, you could open the retailer's page in Chrome, Firefox and Edge. You could then do the same on your phone and tablet. It's like with lottery tickets: The more you have, the better your chances of winning.

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A new era of Xbox is here.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

While we have recommended that gamers keep an eye on Twitter for quick news on restocks, that avenue has become filled with scammers. If you plan to search Twitter for news on Xbox Series X restocks, be sure not to use any of the links associated with those updates. When someone tells you an update will be available at a specific time on Twitter, head directly to the retailer instead. 

One tip: Seek out the $500 retail price and avoid those costly retailer bundles, which include extraneous controllers, accessories and games. Even better, if you don't have a 4K TV and don't expect to get one anytime soon, get the Xbox Series S instead and save $200.

How do I join the Xbox Insider program?

Microsoft's internal program for giving fans early access to things it's testing out offers a lot of neat things to poke around with, even without this early access program for buying a new Xbox. Paradoxically, for some, in order to join this program you need to be logged in to an Xbox with your own account. 

1. Open the Xbox Store.

2. Search for insider.

3. Select the Xbox Insider Bundle app.

4. Select Join when you open the app.

Nothing you do within the Xbox Insider program is permanent. If you decide you don't want to be notified when test features are available, you can remove yourself from the Xbox Insider program at any time. The Settings page in the Insider Hub app on your Xbox will allow you to remove your Xbox from the program through the Manage Devices section. Just remove your Xbox, and the Insider program will stop. 

Where has the Xbox Series X been restocked this week?

While you can't find an Xbox at any of these retailers right now, here are all of the places we've seen them pop up this week.