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eBay buzzing with Xbox 360 auctions

Just 36 hours after the next-generation console goes on sale, thousands have been auctioned online for huge profits.

Many who managed to score Microsoft Xbox 360s have been playing a game that has nothing to do with improved graphics or next-gen shooters.

They're wrapped up in the wildly popular sport of eBay. The game's objective: to turn a profit. Just 36 hours after the game consoles went on sale, there are thousands of winners.

A search on the online auction site for "Xbox 360" at around 1 p.m. Wednesday showed nearly 31,000 completed auctions, a total that's growing every minute.

An eBay spokeswoman told Reuters that by midday Wednesday, nearly 7,700 Xbox 360s had sold at an average price of $786.

While it's hard to make comparisons because the game consoles are often packaged with extra games or accessories, it appears sellers are making at least a few hundred dollars off each system.

For example, one page with about 50 Xbox-360 items for auction listed the "premium bundle," which retails for $399. It sold for $700 to $900. The price of the $299 "core" unit ranged from $500 to $715.

The bidding didn't appear quite as fierce at Yahoo's auction site, where there were about 300 closed auctions. Some consoles sold there for below the retail price.

Most of the listing promised immediate, if not free delivery. The common sales pitch was "sold out in stores."

Big retailers, including Best Buy and Target, reported that most stores ran out of Microsoft's next-generation game system following Tuesday's North American debut.

Despite shortages and strong demand from gamers willing to pay top dollar for the latest technology, however, some sellers were apparently asking too much. Many of the 31,000 eBay auctions listed were unsuccessful, possibly because of overpricing.

One Xbox 360 premium console was listed with a starting bid of $1,200 and a "Buy It Now" price of $2,500. That auction expired on Wednesday without attracting an offer.

Reuters contributed to this report.