Bots are still ravaging PlayStation 5 inventory at retail

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,526   +132
Staff member
Editor's take: Experienced scalpers use software supplied from firms like Carnage to quickly buy up stock of in-demand items such as the PlayStation 5, then turn around and sell them for a profit on third-party marketplaces like eBay. Slowing them down has proven difficult, and really, do manufacturers and retailers even care?

Sony promised to deliver additional PlayStation 5 stock late last year ahead of the holidays but ultimately, the console remained next to impossible to find at retail.

More positive news came early this month when insiders claimed Sony was planning to boost production of its next-gen console to help cater to demand. And when UK retailer Game announced it had fresh stock of the PS5 this week, eager buyers were ready to do business. Unfortunately, so were scalpers.

According to a Twitter post from one popular bot maker, their buying software completed over 2,000 PlayStation 5 checkouts from Game’s restock. “Just keeps getting easier every time,” the firm added.

Carnage has since made its tweets private, no doubt in response to all of the negative feedback from disgruntled buyers.

A spokesperson for Game told GamingBible that all orders are subject to checks. “At the present time these orders are still pre-orders and as such no payments have yet been taken from customers,” the retailer said. “Payments will commence once our order checks have been completed,” the spokesperson added.

As of writing, PS5s are commanding anywhere between $750 and $850 over on eBay. A digital-only PS5 sells for $399 at retail while a model with a disc drive goes for $499.

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Mighty Duck

Posts: 202   +145
Considering the selfishness and absolute need for immediate satisfaction plus the fact that those same individuals have the money to burn...yeah the scalpers will continue to rake up the money from those fools.

But how many whales are there to fund these guys? I guess not many people have the money (and the lack of brains) to buy overpriced products like these. I hope that in the end these guys end up with a large stock of products they cannot sell and are forced to sell at a loss.
 

sac39507

Posts: 400   +213
Simply create a lottery or drawing to win the rights to buy. Applies to Graphics card retailers as well. Problem solved
 

amghwk

Posts: 1,080   +996
Not going to pay a single buck above the MSRP. I can wait. No hurry. (I got my PS4 Pro after a few years, in fact. And the price was much lower by that time. Much much lower than the original MSRP.) I have other games to play on other platforms. I still replay good old games when I get bored with new games. New games are nothing to shout about anyway.

Scalpers can take the consoles to their graves, for all I care.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,250   +7,024
If the companies knowingly sell to the scalpers then they are very much a part of the problem and if it's the distributors (middle man) the company should go after them ...... but it's business so as long as they get their cut they certainly don't care .....
 

Rdmetz

Posts: 316   +153
PS5 Scalping was the icing on a really sh***y cake to end a really depressing year.

I'm just glad I got mine - and my three cousin's.


I got 12x 3080's 4x xbox series x and 2x ps5 myself.

None were meant for selling though 2 gpu's did end up getting sold used (I swapped through 3 models myself) and the consoles were like the cards mainly for friends and family.

I obviously kept one of each for myself but knowing what was coming before it even did I was fully prepared and ready to buy the minute each of these were made pre-orderable.

The gpu's were picked up (1 on launch day) and the rest over about a month's time afterwards.

I got all of them with nothing more than proper notifications and dedication (absolutely no bots)

It's doable if you really want them (especially just 1) but you got to be prepared to stress about it non stop and have all avenues thought out and properly configured for the fastest possible checkout.
 

Rdmetz

Posts: 316   +153
But how many whales are there to fund these guys? I guess not many people have the money (and the lack of brains) to buy overpriced products like these. I hope that in the end these guys end up with a large stock of products they cannot sell and are forced to sell at a loss.
It won't happen and even if they end up with a few likley they can just return for full refund OR even if they sell at msrp (and take a loss on fees) they'll likley have made WAY MORE than enough to cover the hit without batting an eye.

When I was buying cards for my friends and family I literally would take ANYTHING I could get because I knew that 1 my friends would likely take anything I could help them with AND if they happen to not want it at the very least I could sale it and make my money back no problem.

I got 12x cards during the first month or so of their release and had absolutely no friends turn down what I had to offer them.

I personally went through 3 different 3080 to get to the model I actually wanted but had no problem selling my used cards and not taking a hit.

I know I priced them well because both of them sold so fast I couldn't even go back 2 min later to upload a non default photo.
 

Rdmetz

Posts: 316   +153
Considering the selfishness and absolute need for immediate satisfaction plus the fact that those same individuals have the money to burn...yeah the scalpers will continue to rake up the money from those fools.
Supply and demand at its finest really... We Americans always screaming about no socialist ways and only capitalistic as the only one they support... Then they cry because someone did exactly that.

These cards were obviously priced well under what they are truly worth to a large majority (atleast compared to the available product) and the market adjusted. Hype played a part for sure but we've seen the 3090 which is only marginally faster start becoming more available at its retail as the "value" was established to much higher than 699 for these cards but obviously not 1500.

Early on we saw the 3090 pulling over 3 grand but now the value has settled to where it properly is which is just slightly higher than what the 3080 are being "valued" at.

The fact that the previous model (and significantly slower) 2080ti had a typical asking price around 1200-1500 dollars also plays a huge part in why these cards are still selling so well at these prices.

You can wait it out but must do so knowing that the "value" of said cards is also dropping along with the time passed and by the time you may easily be able to get one for the msrp it's likley to be because something better has come along.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 5,310   +6,036
Supply and demand at its finest really... We Americans always screaming about no socialist ways and only capitalistic as the only one they support... Then they cry because someone did exactly that.


The issue of "bots" has been an issue since people started using bots and AI to trade ETF/Stocks, options, etc.

Using a machine to buy things/sell things faster than humanely possible is a technology ethics issue there is no real answer to. They said back then "well, you'll just have to buy a better bot to compete".

What's happening now with the scalping COULD HAVE been prevented by Sony, Microsoft and Nvidia actually selling direct to consumers or by pre-ordering for verification.

Apple sells more iPhones upon release than Sony, Microsoft, Nvidia and AMD sell their new released consoles and GPUS combined, and yet Apple managed to almost completely kill scalping - of their $1000 - $1500) phones using pre-order verification, 2 phone maximum and scheduled pick ups.

These companies could have done the exact same thing using Microcenter, Best Buy, Gamestop, etc.

I waited on line for the 3080, 3090, 3070, 3060Ti and will go back to brave the line again for the 3080Ti. I feel more entitled to get those products than someone running a damn bot.
 

Rdmetz

Posts: 316   +153
The issue of "bots" has been an issue since people started using bots and AI to trade ETF/Stocks, options, etc.

Using a machine to buy things/sell things faster than humanely possible is a technology ethics issue there is no real answer to. They said back then "well, you'll just have to buy a better bot to compete".

What's happening now with the scalping COULD HAVE been prevented by Sony, Microsoft and Nvidia actually selling direct to consumers or by pre-ordering for verification.

Apple sells more iPhones upon release than Sony, Microsoft, Nvidia and AMD sell their new released consoles and GPUS combined, and yet Apple managed to almost completely kill scalping - of their $1000 - $1500) phones using pre-order verification, 2 phone maximum and scheduled pick ups.

These companies could have done the exact same thing using Microcenter, Best Buy, Gamestop, etc.

I waited on line for the 3080, 3090, 3070, 3060Ti and will go back to brave the line again for the 3080Ti. I feel more entitled to get those products than someone running a damn bot.
I agree there are ways to "control" the market more but in a capitalistic market what we are seeing is just the system doing what it's meant to.

We don't want to pay these prices then enough of us need to feel that way as to make the market a buyers market and not a sellers but the fact is many of us still see plenty of value in spending that much for them otherwise why would we still see them selling for that much?

They may control the supply but we control the demand... What we have here is just a supply adjusting as it can currently to balance that demand as best as possible.

You fix by lowering demand or increasing supply that's the only TRUE answer in a free market.
 

brucek

Posts: 903   +1,308
If I ran one of these manufacturers I'd be calling for serious internal analysis around 1) why are we not capturing the scalper's margin, and 2) if our retail distribution is mainly a staging point for scalpers and results in neither us nor our retailer actually having the customer relationship, nor be able to sell games & accessories at point of sale, is it time to rethink our overall distribution strategy.

As a consumer, what I want is a direct relationship with the manufacturer, where I can put my name on the waiting list once, have a fair shot at getting whatever inventory is available, and otherwise be able to wait my turn in peace with regular updates.
 

Rdmetz

Posts: 316   +153
If I ran one of these manufacturers I'd be calling for serious internal analysis around 1) why are we not capturing the scalper's margin, and 2) if our retail distribution is mainly a staging point for scalpers and results in neither us nor our retailer actually having the customer relationship, nor be able to sell games & accessories at point of sale, is it time to rethink our overall distribution strategy.

As a consumer, what I want is a direct relationship with the manufacturer, where I can put my name on the waiting list once, have a fair shot at getting whatever inventory is available, and otherwise be able to wait my turn in peace with regular updates.

This is a very good point and one that they should be looking at for sure.

Buying from scalpers has other potential issues buyers aren't taking into account like the fact that some manufacturers won't honor warranty when you buy from a 3rd party.

But again this comes down to entitled gamers with demand that far outweighs reasonable thinking.

I blame the sales channels more than the scalpers as they are just taking advantage of the free market. Buyers should be choosing not to deal with the scalpers but outside of this hating them will do nothing your anger needs to be towards the sales channels and manufacturers pushing their retail partners to do more.

People quote the Apple sales system as a good example of how to do it but you must remember that Apple is vertically integrated and they are not only the manufacturer but the marketing sales and distribution channels from top to bottom.

Imagine your favorite Mayonnaise brand suddenly required registration to buy it anywhere its sold and the strain that could put on your local grocery store.

At the same time imagine if you wanted your favorite mayo but could no longer buy it at the grocery store and instead had to go online provide multiple forms of verification and get in a queue for a jar 6-8 weeks later.

It's all quite complicated and no answer is the "absolute" one.
 

brucek

Posts: 903   +1,308
It's true that Apple has a strong retail presence, but not true that they own all of their own retail. Apple sells through most of the major retail chains as well as most of the wireless provider stores. Given the extra logistics involved in meeting wireless provider (and related government) requirements, plus probably the most complex sourcing and manufacturing requirements (I.e. sensors and displays not found in these other products), Apple actually faces the most complicated logistics scenario of any of these players and still delivers the best customer experience (for a price.) btw Microsoft and Sony have also flirted with their own retail stores, although a lot less successfully than Apple.

If I was a retailer I would definitely care about the scalper problem. I'm losing the bundled game + accessory sales I would have had with a real end purchaser, I'm losing the chance to get them in the store or on my site, and I'm risking both my supplier and my customer starting to wonder what my relevance is.
 

ross01

Posts: 53   +23
Everyone always blames scalpers. it is not scalpers, it is cryptocurrency that is the cause. people need to learn basic economics, supply is 10x less because crypto is buying every single gpu die. since demand is so high and supply so low, scalping becomes feasible and profitable. basic economics
 

paul1122

Posts: 169   +156
But how many whales are there to fund these guys? I guess not many people have the money (and the lack of brains) to buy overpriced products like these. I hope that in the end these guys end up with a large stock of products they cannot sell and are forced to sell at a loss.

US citizens will be getting new ps5 money about every 3 months from the government, and have already gotten 2 xbox and ps5 relief checks sent to them. This'll go on for ever here in the states, lol.
 

defaultluser

Posts: 256   +230
But how many whales are there to fund these guys? I guess not many people have the money (and the lack of brains) to buy overpriced products like these. I hope that in the end these guys end up with a large stock of products they cannot sell and are forced to sell at a loss.


No, they don't.

Amazon allows you 30 days the rest of the year, but during the holidays you can return something you bought in October by the end of January. buying from Sony direct gives you a 45 day return indow

These people have the money to waste, and would rather you help them nearly double it. They're the type who likes buying and selling things on a daily basis, so taking advantage of stuss like this is just a normal day to them.

Massive holiday return windows with 100% refunds is one f the reasons that this has become so easy for online buyers. They created it to encourage buyers of high-end stuff over the holiday, and it has also encouraged resellers to manipulate the system.

The buyers are fickle-hearted, and give in; you don't need a single whale to buy all this stuff! If you're living alone, you can justify your monumental waste of money by saying "but I'm not buying anything else, I swear!", and in family households you can just charge it to stop the whining of your three kids.

folks have always gone overboard during the holidays, but thanks to Covid, the traditional drop in console demand in spring is probably not coming., so it's going too be awhile.
 
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EchoWhiskey

Posts: 16   +14
Supply and demand at its finest really...

Exactly my thoughts.
Apparently there are people who are willing to pay twice/triple the normal price for a product.
By all means let them do so, it's their money.
The only downside is that we (the 'normal' people) have to wait longer.

BTW: There is a lot of debate about scalpers.
If you consider them as a problem, you should also consider the miners a problem. Exactly the same principle.

My 2 cents
(all that I have ;-)
 

brucek

Posts: 903   +1,308
A miner is ultimately another consumer, just like me. We both want cards for our own purposes. We're each consuming the limited supply but the miner would be doing what he's doing with or without me. His profit is not coming at my expense.

The scalper is a different animal. He's purchasing a product I want, that he doesn't, just so he can sell it to me at a higher price after having added no value (he maybe actually subtracted value, by voiding the warranty.) I am not going to give him my money even if I'd cheerfully pay the exact same price to the legitimate retailer. I realize that, in the US at least, the scalper is not committing a crime, but my feeling about him is still similar to how I'd feel about someone trying to extort a ransom from me.
 

silversea

Posts: 43   +66
I have a new Ryzen System half-assembled, been working on it for almost a year now but because some parts are still hard to come by/overpriced will have to wait, my wife says just buy them and get it finished, but I am very persistent when it comes to dealing with the likes of scalpers, those low lives that make our like miserable I will not give in I will just wait till the prices are MSRP for what I need. If most everyone else felt the same way I do there would be fewer scalpers out there
 

EchoWhiskey

Posts: 16   +14
A miner is ultimately another consumer, just like me.

I tend to disagree with you.
Both scalpers and miners buy products/cards in exorbitant quantities, contributing to the shortages and price increases.
The only way to prevent both scalpers and miners to create shortages is the producers to create enough stock. But in practice that won't happen, producer s don't care who buy their product (and why should they).

but my feeling about him is still similar to how I'd feel about someone trying to extort a ransom from me
With the difference that if you don't pay the ransom, nothing really happens. You/we just have to wait a longer
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
Scalpers are not selfish or disgusting or anything of the sort. They are business people buying a commodity for a low price then selling it on for a higher price. We can’t blame them for that because you want the latest games console. I’d they were doing it with food or medicine then fine but this is a luxury.

This gets resolved with either higher prices. Sony will be furious that some third parties are making 100% profits on their console when they could have had that money. Or Sony increases production to meet the demand. But that doesn’t seem viable.