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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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 1 month 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.

IconoclysmD

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

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 1 month 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

Austin

Just to throw this entire article into question. Scalping period is actually illegal in all 50 states. I have contacted microsoft as well as all retailers corporate offices and discussed why they aren’t stopping scalpers and their response was basically if you know who the scalper is take their information to the cops so they can be arrested. Problem is no one really knows who the scalpers are.

wacuco

Seems really simple to me, teach scalpers a lesson by not buying from them making them eat their loses. People in USA always seem to forget that the consumer really has the power to control the market, not the other way around. most of these acts capitalize in lack of discipline, and just plain stupid behavior for the part of the consumers.

Rigamarole

Price gouging (charging far more than a product is worth) and profiteering is already illegal in many instances in many countries. Its not a new thing. Scalping is (and always has been) a slimy and immoral practice driven by profit and the mere fact its NOT illegal. Make it illegal and the profit goes away, as will the motives of the scalpers. Heck I remember people being beaten bloody over freaking cabbage patch dolls in the 80s (look that one up!). People being assaulted, scammed and ripped off over “Tickle me Elmo”. Its ridiculous, and people are indeed scammed, assaulted… Read more »

Kill Them All

Any account selling a product that is marked for resell should require a verified physical address attached to the account and exposed to the public.

When scalpers start dying, people will stop scalping

Decent Human Being

1,000,000% scalping systems like they are doing, should be illegal. The idiots who keep buying from scumbag scalpers should also be locked up for helping to perpetuate this horse S4*7.

John Dorotiss

Ebay supports the scalpers for the consoles but Amazon does not. Ebay is just a 3rd class version of Amazon anyway. Boycott Ebay!!

Sabien

This is not true in the slightest. The Series X is $1500 on Amazon. Luckily I got one launch day but I think it’s complete bullshit that people can’t get something they’ve been waiting for a long time to get because greedy bastards want to turn a profit. The only way to beat them is to not give in to the urges of buying the consoles until they build more stock to buy retail. I am incredibly lucky to have been able to even grab one from my local Walmart as it literally went out of stock in SECONDS. There’s… Read more »

Sabien

Just stick with the console you have for now and buy cross-gen editions. Then when you get the new console you have series x/ps5 versions too.

drjoms

Suggest Sony to allow pre order with pre payment. If companies know needs, they can produce as much as needed. There is your technical solution.

Jakey Park

This is so true. I think people who scalp them are scum of the earth and we need to rise up and put a stop to this. People….. DONT BUY IT FROM THEM. I think what we need to do is boycott the lil scum buckets doing this so they are poop out of luck and wasted there money, Its not fair to us gamers who actually want to use the system,. i will NOT pay almost double to value for a console it just wont happen.

GLEN METCALFE

SONY is directly at fault!Why wouldnt these be sold directly to people with existing ps plus active accounts.This way they would be distributed evenly across people who actually play the systems.This BS of people with BOT accounts buying up complete stocks is immorally wrong and SONY should be held directly LIABLE!If you dont play playstation you shouldnt be allowed to purchase one plain and simple!

Kill Them All

The solution is very simple. Start killing them. Nobody will scalp if they’re terrified to do it.

John Dorotiss

The IRS needs to take the reins on this and tax these scalper idiots. They can easily prove their profits are earnings and tax them. That’ll take a bite out of slime.

TERRENCE

Have patience everybody, eventually the consoles will hit stores for in store purchase.

AcL

This isn’t any different that it was 2 generations ago. If people put in the work to secure consoles legally at launch, or anytime for that matter, they own them and can do whatever they want with them. I spent 2 and a half hours spamming the checkout button on microsoft.com to secure my series X, and seriously considered reselling it, but some fedex employee tried to steal it while it was in transit and decided to keep to avoid the hassle of getting another. When pS3 came out I brave the elements for 3 days camping out at walmart… Read more »

nobody asked what you did

wow thats crazy but i dont remember asking

Jakey Park

what sucks is i did the same and got screwed TWICE. It was available shortly after launch on walmart and i spent and hour doing the same and it delayed me until the item was sold out . not cool assholes use bots not fair at all.

GLEN METCALFE

your a straight up GOOF and should be sterilized!

ashley poole

I really don’t care! Its garbage to that,if it’s something you really don’t care about!

Chris Petkunas

The only way to stop the scalper from enjoying the profits from resell is to not buy for over retail price. Let these guys be stuck with their pile of inventory then have to sell for retail.

Decent Human Being

If only stupid A-holes would quit buying at scalper prices. They are just as guilty.

James

Its no different then giving money to panhandlers. Most of them use it as a panhandling business. I see plenty who claim they are stranded and then later that night go home on the bus. Its the idiots who pay, who are the problem. They think they are being generous, yet they they are feeding into the corruption.

Kurtis Weaver

I don’t think it”s immoral or unethical. It’s supply and demand and Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo drumming up free publicity. I haven’t been able to get an XBox console either and fortunately I don’t need to get one right now because of the way MS released a very compatible system. It stinks nonetheless, but as long as MS et al continue to produce the consoles in low qualities in order to generate hype, then this is what we will be stick with. I don’t care for the practice of scalping and I am on the receiving end of it, but… Read more »

John Doe

Doesn’t make it right.

JasonGW

Actually, it IS right, and here’s why: at every step of the process, what you’re seeing are human beings exchanging value for value in a voluntary chain. No one is forced to participate, from the designers and engineers who created the device, to the software developers who built the OS and games, to the assemblers, packagers, graphic designers, marketers, ship and plane pilots and loaders / unloaders, truck drivers, stock clerks, cashiers, and ultimately customers, whether direct from the store or via the hands of a scalper–every single person along the way makes a voluntary choice to exchange their value… Read more »

John Dorotiss

You are a scalper

Decent Human Being

It absolutely does not make it right. “Making a little extra scratch” does not mean charging double, triple, quadruple or more for the consoles. There are literally financial laws against this kind of practice for every single market, except scalping. Laws around scalping are loosy goosy and need to be tightened up. John Dorotiss is right, you are a scalper scum bag and you will roast one day.

Kill Them All

You deserve to die like the rest of the profiteers

Kill Them All

Entrepreneurship is not to be confused with profiteering. This is why scalping essential items during a pandemic is illegal and stomped out by retailers and consumers alike. The problem is that fewer people buy consoles than toilet paper, and so these items are “free game”. Scalping is a crime against the humanities that drive commerce and if we killed the people that do it, nobody would try.

Gremlin

What you described is a courier system not a scalper. Scalpers arnt providing a service that is not already available via the store. Scalpers are just buying wholesale unnecessarily then creating an undue market demand because of selfish and needless desire to make money off people who simply wish to be part of the new wave. Similar to how a parasite is not a natural part of a being but can survive by taking from something else and simply enough can be treated by medicine. Similarly scalpers should be treated for by law and legislation.

Rigamarole

nothing immoral or unethical about what scalpers do…”
Profiteering off people in a pandemic so their kids dont get their most wanted christmas present? Yeah thats immoral and unethical in entirety.

ashley poole

You’re wrong man! Price gouging is flat out wrong!

Nerd McNerdison

All of those people you mentioned literally have nothing to do with the argument at hand. You might want to glance over the article one more time guy. People are using bots as an unfair advantage against legitimate consumers. This isn’t a “little extra scratch”, this 2-3x it’s original price. Your friend went to the locations and waited and actually put in effort. It would be the same if he strong armed to the front of the lines or better yet had some sort remote controlled robot to do it for him. Scalping is absolutely despicable, and you aren’t going… Read more »

avestudent@hotmail.com

You sound like a scalper.

Kurtis Weaver

Totally valid responses. I think this is one of those cases where you “hate the game, not the player” sort of thing. Also, I am not a scalper and if I walked into a store and had the chance to buy 10 XSX I would not do that. I would also be glad to see people not sell a single marked up unit. However, I also don’t see it as amoral and it’s likely a smart move on their part. Why? Because they have something that people want and will pay for and they are using their own network and/or… Read more »

nobody asked what you did

damn bro that’s so crazy

but when did anybody ask?

Decent Human Being

However, at a certain point of mark up, it is wrong and becomes a big ethical issue… unless you are a person of low morals, scalp for outrageous prices and probably guzzle contents of used condoms all day long.

ashley poole

I’m OK, with maybe a $100 mark up, but the prices right now are crazy! Consoles are not meant to be sold like cars. They eliminate the middle man, but scalpers have created the middle man

IconoclysmD

Your entire argument here is based on a myth that these companies create artificial demand. There has never been a shred of evidence that this is true and it’s been debunked over and over.

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