During the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, one gaming hardware has been facing shortages: the Nintendo Switch. One factor leading to the Switch having a limited supply is that resellers are using bots to auto-buy the console to then mark it up.
According to an investigation by Motherboard, a community on Discord has been communicating about how to use one particular tool, Bird Bot. It purchases the Nintendo Switch then the reseller will put it up on Amazon or eBay for hundreds of dollars over the retail price. On Nintendo’s website, the base console sells at $299.99, with one retailer on Amazon selling it for $479.00.
Nate, the identified creator of Bird Bot, said he initially designed the bot for fun with a few friends.
“Me and my friends were talking about reselling Nintendo Switches, and at one point my friend, nicknamed Bird, told me I should make a bot. And here we are today,” Nate told Motherboard.
Motherboard was able to get onto the Discord server, which had up to 1,000 users. A moderator posted that the console was in stock at Walmart with a link. When Motherboard checked a few minutes later, the bots were able to sell out the recently in-stock item.
Not everyone can get in as some purchases when using a bot.
“Please be mindful not everyone will hit a restock. There’s hundreds of people with bots that are running for Switches, Oculus, and Webcams,” one moderator said in the Discord server.
Other bots are being used for this purpose, like Swift and Phantom. Like Bird Bot, these are typically utilized for buying then reselling sneakers, but have pivoted towards Nintendo’s current-gen console.
Some of these people are using the money for their own purposes. Many Americans are still waiting to receive a $1,200 stimulus check, which will help people who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus. By selling a Switch, they can make money as they wait for a check from Uncle Sam.
Others have donated money to charity with the revenue earned when reselling Switches. Nate told Motherboard that the bot had raised over $1,000.
In the report from GamesIndustry.Biz, a Nintendo representative told the outlet that more Switches would be restocked.