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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Vic

Force purchase to be verified through legitimate identification logged through dmv/gov id check. Limit to one purchase per month, boom fixed

Principle PC

You want to deter scalping, boycott it for a couple of months maybe even a year. Very hard yes but it will either reduce prices, making scalping a non-viable business, or make companies notice because nobody is buying the games of their shelfs.

Na man

A little birdy I know told me he bought from a scalper off amazon, then said he never got it. Scalper takes the hit, and maybe will learn a lesson

Damian

The *only* reason Ticket Sales Scalping is illegal in the states they are is because Tickemaster actively lobbied legislation so yes- it absolutely could happen it would just require silicon manufacturers to lobby similar legislation

chicken chaser

Let’s say for instance your going to mcdonald’s and the car in front of you buys all the burgers then set’s up shop selling his wares for double the amount. Do you still support scalping while you tell your kids, sorry we can’t eat here? Now not only does your family lose out, but Mcd’s also suffers the backlash on social media. The only winner here is the scalper while so many lose. Sad really.

Jake State Farm

Scalpers should be publicly beaten live on TV until every part of their soul is gone.

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 5 months ago by Aaron A Fleming
Aaron Donaldson

Not an essential item so why are you getting so pissed.

chicken chaser

I’m guessing you must be a scalper?

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 »

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