Should Console Scalping Be Illegal? Xbox Series X and PS5 Sales Are Being Abused

Console scalping has hit the gaming community harder than it ever has - should it be illegal? Prices on eBay, Facebook, and Amazon are absurd. The gaming community may need to fight back to bring an end to this immoral act. Laws have done nothing, but is there a way to get justice?

Should Console Scalping Be Illegal

Every gamer tries to keep with the current trends. When a new game releases, they are there. When a new piece of hardware releases, gamers once again appear to spend their hard-earned cash. When a new generation of consoles releases, all hell breaks loose. Soon people are swarming all over the internet and attacking retail associates to get their hands on the new tech. Through all of that chaos, there is one type of individual that is almost universally despised… The Scalper. Scalpers don’t care about feelings, they don’t care about how much of a budget someone is on, and they certainly don’t care about the money someone tirelessly saved. They only care about one thing… Money. Many gamers are rising up again to tell scalpers to go away, but the real question should be, should it be illegal?

Everyone knows who a scalper is. They buy high demand items in bulk and then resell them at a profit on sites like eBay and Amazon. Currently, if someone doesn’t want to wait around hoping that they get one, a PS5 on eBay ranges from $500 (for the digital edition) all the way up to $1,500. What’s even crazier is that people are willing to buy them instead of wait until demand decreases. This fuels the power that scalpers have. So, the other question is how do we stop scalpers from gaining so much power and get consoles into the hands of people who deserve them?

Is It Illegal?

Scalpers on eBay are selling PS5 consoles for more than double the retail price.

Scalpers on eBay are selling PS5 consoles for more than double the retail price.

In short, no. While areas have taken notice of scalping tickets, this type of law has not been expanded to stop people from scalping other items. Each year, items like consoles, collectibles, and games, get resold at higher values than they are worth. Companies do little to prevent this action from happening. So far, Sony has implemented an account access process on their website. This has made it so a person must have a PlayStation account in order to buy a system. Their website is also one of the few that has not crashed thanks to its online waiting room. 

Other retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy have not been as hard on scalpers. They require little to no proof that a buyer is a real person other than a simple CAPTCHA. This has enabled scalpers to more effectively buy products and stockpile them. Some of these scalpers have even been outlandish enough as to post pictures of their PlayStation and Xbox consoles stacked up to the ceiling. Thanks to these scalpers, and the pandemic, more people are noticing the difficulty and want to take action. But how do scalpers beat the lines so easily?

BOTS

Scalpers use Bots to get ahead in queues and buy multiple consoles before others.

Scalpers use Bots to get ahead in queues and buy multiple consoles before others.

Bots are something any normal person comes across when taking that online shopping journey around the mall that is the internet. ChatBots appear on retail screens to answer questions that people might have about products or shipping. Bots send automatic text messages or emails to confirm orders. They even send information about the shipping of the item, letting customers know that their product is on its way. The Bots used by scalpers are a little different. 

 

Scalper Bots have one focus: get in, buy as much as possible, and get out before being noticed. The site, DataDome stated in an article that “Scalpers use automated software to position themselves at the start of the queue and snap up coveted items within seconds after they are released for sale.” That’s right, before someone gets in a queue, scalpers are already at the front of the pack. The use of bots allows them to mix up data signals and acquire multiples of the same item well before a normal person can get their hands on it. 

Possible Hope

Sneaker companies have come up with different methods of defeating Bots.

Sneaker companies have come up with different methods of defeating Bots.

Sneakers are a huge market, but why talk about them here? Well, like consoles, sneakers are bought and sold frequently. Limited edition pairs come out all the time and avid collectors try to snag a pair to add to their collections. These highly coveted items used to fall victim to the same treatment that consoles and other collectibles get. They used to be bought by scalpers and sold for as much as four times the standard amount. In the past few years, however, shoe companies have taken some interesting action against Bots. 

Nike, a fan favorite shoe company, partnered with the restaurant Momofuku for one release. During this release, buyers had to scan a menu from the restaurant to prove they were a real person. Other companies have tried using their own Bots to help prevent the use of Scalper Bots. Some companies now use a raffle system to help get more real people on the websites purchasing their sneakers. That’s not all. Thanks to the number of Bot attacks the sneaker market has had, the government took notice and tried to sign into law the Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018. The proposed law would make it illegal to use bots to purchase high-value items for resale use. Needless to say, the law hasn’t gone through yet or we may not even be having this conversation. That doesn’t mean it won’t go through in the future. 

The ULTIMATE Beginner's Guide to Sneaker Botting in 2019

The Best Defense

With the law not being on our side and scalper using every possible trick in the book to snag consoles before anyone else, the real question is why even try? Legislation may never come to declare the usage of Bots to be illegal. Not even stores are truly on a gamer’s side. Stores typically have an anti-Bot section in their agreements but never follow through on them. Gamers could get lucky like the sneaker world did and a pioneer of Bot technology may come to help ordinary people use Bots to even the playing field, but that may not happen either. So that brings us back to the question, why even try?

Brought about earlier this year and talked about in a recent article on GamingIntel, a new Chrome extension has been released called Octoshop. This extension tracks items online and gives notifications to the user whenever a selected item goes back on the market. Prices can be adjusted to avoid getting scalped items and the frequency that each site is checked can be adjusted to be constant or every hour. It is a great tool to use to help the ordinary person beat the bots. For the future, petitions have gone around to help get the ball rolling on the Anti-Bot legislation in Congress. Maybe we will all see a better buying experience by the time the next console generation rolls around. 

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Aaron A Fleming

If it’s illegal to scalp venue tickets, it should be illegal to scalp consoles. Events aren’t currently happening due to the pandemic which makes these consoles a high target for entertainment purposes.

Last edited 20 days ago by Aaron A Fleming
Mike

Just remember everyone, stupidity and evil doesn’t work. Sometimes it looks like it does for a little while, but in the end, bad decisions catch up to those who commit them. Sony, Microsoft, Target, Walmart, Best Buy and the scalpers themselves – they are all guilty of stupidity and recklessness and carelessness. And they think they are getting away with it for now because “who cares. We got what we needed out of it. The only ones complaining anyway are the losers who didn’t get one…” – Ok, we’ll see…. Just wait until these stores and companies are sitting on… Read more »

Jonathan

Any website that is allowing this practise should be heavily heavily fined. eBay and any online reseller should automatically delist any console or any product that sells there item more than 50 percent more than MSRP on a product that has been out last then 1 year. Every instance of a product found could face a 500 dollar fine. Also the selling on console online should be immediately halted until sources like xxxxx have defined ways to stop bots from scalping.

Rob

The main thing I want to know, it how did ANY retailer actually ship dozens of consoles to the same address without questioning it? The best way to stop scalpers, would be to only ship them 1 console, and then refund the remaining purchases. Just like there are few laws protecting against scalpers, there are few laws that say a retailer has to sell you an item. Private businesses have that discretion.

Ari

an address can be made to look different an almost unlimited amount of times. 123 S dark Rd is the same 123 s DARK Rd

Dustin

That’s not really how that works. Data normalization is carried out on addresses pretty much universally. The post office and most carriers will just reject addresses that are improperly formatted. The issue is that scalpers will get friends and family, or even pay off strangers in order to avoid the shipment limits. It’s especially easy for places like apartment buildings that use a communal mail room. A limit on the number of units per address would absolutely slow them down, but it has to be a fairly harsh limit. The only way scalping gets stopped in its tracks is to… Read more »

jason clarence

I have no problem with scalping as a practice, if you buy a product you can sell it at whatever you want, it also gives an opportunity for those that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to acquire one a chance to. But using bots to buy up the entire supply of a product to cause scarcity so that they can sell these product for outrageous amounts since they are the only ones with supply is unfair and should be illegal. It’s also harming companies as well, companies like Playstation and Xbox sell their consoles at a loss because they can… Read more »

jonhdusommeD

LOCK EM UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

thecursedgod

there’s allot of laws that should be made the world lets bad people do bad things scalpers should get jail time. only legitimate retailers should be able to get stock to sell to legitimate buyers. with pandemic retailers should also set up a way to track people who buy a system and force 1 per customer online until there is full stock in stores.

Qx403

Could be considered price gouging during the COVID-19 Pandemic if somebody could convince their state attorney general it’s a necessity. People are stuck in their homes with little to do, so it may be a possibility if slim to be seen that way.

Kirtap

To be honest it should, or atleast there should more heavy handed approach towards it. It’d benefit Sony and MS, mainly Sony. Selling consoles is one thing, but recouping money on manufacturing costs is another. Not many are going to buy games for a system they don’t own and software sales are what recoup costs. Maybe if the law reworked the definition of resale, extending it to even selling as ‘used’. Perhaps a product with a no resale policy can be sold as used after a period of time since a product was first released, like perhaps 180 days has… Read more »

Nixie Knox

Nope. The manufacturers are stupid for selling them too low at launch.

jerome

This is price gouging to a T and price gouging is illegal.

Disenfranchised Customer

Producing an artificial shortage of a product (PS5 or Xbox Series X) through purchasing a retailers entire stock using retailbots. Then doing that on a global scale. With the intention of turning around and selling those PS5 or Xbox Series X consoles for anything above retail price. Is not impressive or cleaver or a good business model. It’s taking away the opportunity from legitimate customers from purchasing a PS5 or Xbox Series X for their own personal use. Without having to pay 3x the retail price. There is nothing wrong with a person wanting to own a PS5 or Xbox… Read more »

Anonymous

Scalping should absolutely be illegal. It’s a form of extortion. Using mechanisms like bots to purchase mass quantities of an item is a forceful means of obtaining that item. It’s an illegitimate business model. Scalpers contribute virtually nothing to the economy since they produce nothing for the economy. Like pirates, they rely exclusively upon the production of legitimate manufacturers for their profit margins by cornering supply while they maintain zero influence on demand. It encourages localized monopoly-style trading. By today’s legal description of “free trade”, a single entity in an area can forcefully purchase the entire stock of a given… Read more »

some dude

A simple win/win solution to this problem is even if retailers are going to sell these, force a HUMAN interaction on every transaction. A human calls you on the phone to verify who you are before you complete transaction. You get a code/pass from Sony that you can use once anywhere. When its used the code and serial of the console are synched so you dont get to go buy more elsewhere (simply). As long as there is a way to buy online without a HUMAN interaction (not a captcha), this problem will persist. Its on both the manufacturer AND… Read more »

Gabriel

I personally don’t think it should be illegal based on the fact that there are so many other things that are marked up significantly from retail price. I’m talking about everything from antiques to gaming systems. The only reason that some of these nerds think it should be illegal is because they were a day late and a dollar short like myself, not willing to pay the astronomical mark up and now have to wait a little bit longer than wanted. I personally don’t care about the wait since it’s a gift for my kid and I have nobody to… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Gabriel
Bob withers

The problem with scalping is that they use Bots to buy all high in demand items quicker than a person can get the web page loaded.

Tim

As one of those “nerds,” I was actually there for release and each restock on about 5 or 6 different websites. I am usually refreshing the page for at least 20 minutes before the console is actually stocked Every time I try to buy one, the site crashes, and the consoles are sold out within minutes if not seconds. The issue is not getting an equal chance alongside the immorality of cheating children out of entertainment to make a quick buck. And before you say “Get better internet,” I have download speeds between 15-20 MB/s on a bad day, so… Read more »

Nerd McNerdison

That is an awful take at a legitimate issue. Did you not fully comprehend the article? Do you need a “nerd” to break it down for you. These people are using bots to strongarm consumers from owning a product even at pre-order. Many people were trying on day one with full payment, but were locked out due to bot congestion on the sites. “Nerds” are passionate about the gaming community that these people are ruining and we don’t want you in it, your kid can come over though, he is probably a lot cooler and smarter than you.

Nickos

Actually scalping is a much bigger problem than you think. Think it like this, if scalpers own most of the PS5 and Xbox Series X stock then there wont be many people around playing all the new games released for these consoles. All these companies developing games for the PS5 and the Xbox series X will have a massive loss in revenue for the very obvious reason that not many actual gamers own the new consoles using them as intended (which is playing games), instead of having them sitting around stacked in a basement as its the case with scalpers.… Read more »

Michael

theres not really a need to make this “officially” illegal, just dont buy from scalpers and the problem solves itself. if you youre so much hyped for an ps5 console with barely any games released, that you buy it for 1k$ from scalpers, well,… blame yourself. Its not like the ps5 is limited or something, there will come more. people nowday just get too impatient, its the same for games. only because of those overhyped peoles the scalpers methods work so well. ((simply buy consoles, and give them to overhyped boys who pay their last shirt to get their hands… Read more »

Manuel W Alvarez

Too late. People are dumb enough to spend $900-2000 for these consoles.
It was already announced even by the scalpers that they made millions dollars already, and the UK is trying to make it illegal for scalpers to buy consoles or anything thats gonna be scalped.

People are so stupid wasting money. Even if i had the money to buy a
console scalped, i would never give my money to them.

$500 vs $1200-2000, imagine all the games one can get with the extra monies.

John Cania

Just be patient everyone. The scalpers will be stuck with PS5’s that they will have to sell at retail price or they will be stuck with a bunch of PS5’s they can’t sell. Just be patient because January is right around the corner and there will be plenty after the hype is over. Purchase a PS5 from a reputable business and buy a warranty at check out. Sony will not repair or replace your PS5 without a receipt or proof of purchase. Just be patient people !!!!!

psy

you are the type of people that would ban a robot from shopping at the store just cause they can do things faster then a human can
no scalping consoles or using bots to purchase items faster then a human can should not be illegal and before you say i use such bots no no i do not and never will im old fasioned and dont mind waiting a few months or longer for them to be in stock again

psy

for example look at the futurama cartoon robots are capable of buying their own items to much more that they can do. ask yourself would you ban a robot from shopping at your store that seems a little racist in my opinion but we are not in that sort of future yet and are dealing with humans using technology to there advantage which does seem unfair buying items and reselling them at a higher price . which is considered commerce though there is exceptions to the rule such as alcohol that requires a license or reselling tickets. Generally, you can’t… Read more »

Fscalpers

Your one of those scalpers for sure.

Drew

They are all idiots.

Bob withers

Well said scalper.

Bob withers

Your thoughts are filled with doubled standards

drjoms

You make no sense. Robots don’t and can’t have feelings by definition. As such they have no needs. So they don’t need to do shopping. Saying that you can be racist against robot is plain stupid. You can emulate feelings perhaps, but who ever creates emulation is responsible for it. Such emulation can not happen on its own. Human has to be involved. With that said, I agree, scalping should be left alone. What’s difference between scalper and Walmart? They both are resellers. Both sell valuable expensive good for profit. Putting laws against scalping will potentially kill competition. If scalpers… Read more »

drjoms

And no, I am NOT a scalper, I am as annoyed by them as you are.

Iconoclysm

The law should be to make bots illegal, not scalping.

Annon

Please….I beg you… get fixed.. save our gene pool. DO THE RIGHT THING. Friggin scalpers.. …If u could, you would buy up all the water n sell it, wouldnt you? … too bad that act would get everything taken… i mean.. just as extortion and price gouging intersect with the continuing problem of ..you.. so does the guillotine and “cake” intersect with with queen wheres-her-head. whats next, hand sano and masks? what about food? ….oh…wait… hand sano and masks were scalped… i wonder how many have died because of you? So lets all be sure to add indirect mass-manslauter and… Read more »

Me5289

Is that robot buying all the milk and then sitting outside the store selling it for $20 a gallon? Think before you try to justify.

Anonymous

well dont you sound like one of those asshole retailers stealing consoles from everyone during a pandemic, were people are short on money because of being laid off, making the prices ten times higher just for profit, (basically scamming people). Here’s what you should have said to sound a bit better. “You can use bots for purchasing, but not for scalping in order to resale” As that would be a bit more morally acceptable. As for me, I think bots just shouldnt be allowed, because for me, who has a family member with A Glioblastoma cancer tumor, (who could die… Read more »

Dylan

If you are looking for a ps5 buy one right from sony not ebay amazon or anything and eventually the scalpers won’t make any profit because no one buys them

Last edited 4 months ago by Dylan
Anonymous

thats actually a very good idea

John Dorotiss

Don’t heed the hype. Sony will eventually flood the market with PS5’s. People with the life or death need for the console RIGHT NOW will have to deal with design flaws (the alleged coil whine, small and unremovable HDD, etc).This is what the scalpers are trying to push. I’m sure the ps5 Pro will fix some or all of these problems.

Dylan

If I remember correctly sony said that there would only be 2 designs of the ps5 the digital and the other one and they said they won’t be making anything other than those

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