Graphics card scalpers love Best Buy's $200 GPU paywall

midian182

Posts: 7,891   +82
Staff member
A hot potato: While most people aren't fans of Best Buy’s graphics card paywall that allows only subscribers to purchase restocks of the latest GPUs, there’s one group who loves it: scalpers. Several resellers have been boasting about using the scheme to grab up to $20,000 worth of GPUs, ensuring they end up on auction sites or with other retailers at obscenely inflated prices.

Last week brought news that Best Buy had received a restock of Ampere products, but the only way you could buy one of the RTX 3000 cards was to be a member of its Totaltech program.

The $200-per-year subscription service offers perks such as free delivery and installation, free Geek Squad tech support, and access to exclusive Totaltech member prices, the latter of which appears to cover the locked GPUs.

PCMag reports that while most gamers hate the scheme, scalpers are thanking Best Buy, which is the exclusive US retailer for Nvidia Founders Edition cards. One person, known as Bipper, used Discord to boast about buying "almost $20,000 in GPUs" via the Totaltech program.

Bipper noted that customers can only buy one of each SKU, which could be the extent of Best Buy’s anti-scalper measures, but the variety of cards on offer meant they were still able to purchase $20,000 worth of GPUs. The scalper said they are selling them to a local computer shop, which will then sell them for a higher price.

Bipper also added that unlike other restocks, scalpers don’t even need bots to scoop up Best Buy’s inventory—they just have to pay the $200 membership fee that could be recouped from the resale of a single high-end card.

We still don’t know if Best Buy locking its cards behind the Totaltech subscription was a one-off experiment or if it will become the norm for GPU restocks. The company could also mix and match, placing some cards behind the paywall and making some available to everyone. Whatever Best Buy does, it needs to improve its anti-scalper measures.

Permalink to story.

 

bviktor

Posts: 845   +1,260
This whole thing is a great demonstration of how hard issues are to solve if you don't want to solve them. NV and AMD will obviously say they're sooooo sorry, there's not much else they could say. But the reality of it is that they COULDN'T CARE LESS who buys their products and for what price. The business is rolling, anything else is negligible.

What to do if you ACTUALLY wanna solve this? Well, how about create a central B2C programme where every customer can purchase ONE card per YEAR. From ALL vendors in the programme IN TOTAL. One. Per year. Not month, year. Sane people don't replace their GPUs every month, so that monthly restriction at certain places is a laugh in itself. In fact, sane people only replace their GPUs like every 3 years TOPS, if they get the hot new thing with every generation.

Now, it wouldn't be mandatory for OEMs to join the programme, but obviously they'd risk being labelled as scalper vendors or something, And the programme would have KYC video calls to ensure the customer is legit. Like money institutions, for example.

Aaand that's about it. It worked for Sony w/ PlayStation Direct, I don't see why it wouldn't work for NV/AMD. And their Direct is even more lenient than what I've described here.
 

emmzo

Posts: 610   +766
I`ve only replayed older games since the current situation and I`ll do anything before I`ll pay these m0therf...s anything. Scalpers or AMD/NVIDIA is just the same, profiting from people`s misfortune. Needless to say, these companies don`t give a fxck about gamers, the very people that built their fortunes. Nvidia`s LHR is a cruel joke and AMD didn`t even bother that much. Assuming Biden stops printing money, crypto will soon stall, mining will be dead, just as in 2018 and when a ton of used cards will flood the market, we`ll have the last laugh.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,364   +5,590
This whole thing is a great demonstration of how hard issues are to solve if you don't want to solve them. NV and AMD will obviously say they're sooooo sorry, there's not much else they could say. But the reality of it is that they COULDN'T CARE LESS who buys their products and for what price. The business is rolling, anything else is negligible.

What to do if you ACTUALLY wanna solve this? Well, how about create a central B2C programme where every customer can purchase ONE card per YEAR. From ALL vendors in the programme IN TOTAL. One. Per year. Not month, year. Sane people don't replace their GPUs every month, so that monthly restriction at certain places is a laugh in itself. In fact, sane people only replace their GPUs like every 3 years TOPS, if they get the hot new thing with every generation.

Now, it wouldn't be mandatory for OEMs to join the programme, but obviously they'd risk being labelled as scalper vendors or something, And the programme would have KYC video calls to ensure the customer is legit. Like money institutions, for example.

Aaand that's about it. It worked for Sony w/ PlayStation Direct, I don't see why it wouldn't work for NV/AMD. And their Direct is even more lenient than what I've described here.
Sounds like an orwellian privacy nightmare. Yes let's require video interviews to buy GPUs that could never possibly backfire.

There are far simpler was to fix this issue. Simply limiting GPU purchases to 1 per address per month, or 1 per CC per month, and limiting purchases per IP to 1 per month, would do wonders to fix this issue.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,206   +4,244
Called it: helps nobody but scalpers.

But hey look at the boost NFTs and Eth are about to get from the super bowl today: I predict GPU prices will jump back up for at least half of 2022 instead of the slow but constant recovery they were having.

Means GPUs will also jump back up in price instead of the slow but steady price reduction we had for the last month and a half or so.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,206   +4,244
Bad habits here, with scalpers, with miners. I feel that the video game industry is condemned with all that. I won't buy any more overpriced graphics card, that's for sure. Fed up with giving money to cheaters.
It really will end up looking very different but won't go away: I think the most likely scenario is that the first casualty will be PC based AAA gaming: you can expect at least a pretty severe stagnation in terms of asset quality as more devs start realizing "Well our sales are weaker, we can't leverage new tech like ray tracing because not enough gamers have GPUs that are capable of it"

Big winners will probably be Microsoft: all of this product scarcity across the board is really going to make their cloud service quite attractive: you can buy their streaming service now and play on any laptop, any smartphone or tablet, even several smart tvs will soon be able to handle it and after the scarcity is sustained for a long enough time (Not quite enough yet but getting there) they might just have enough people willing to go "Yeah I really only need the Series S equivalent next get or nothing at all: might as well just keep streaming all of it"

And in case I have to spell it out: This will be extremely bad for the gaming industry overall: if you think gaming companies are predatory right now with monetization and gambling mechanics and NFTs wait until the only option for most games is just streaming them with Microsoft or Sony they'll crank that up to 11 with most popular AAA games becoming almost unplayable with the default "free" streaming version unless you buy some in game stuff.
 

corrosive23

Posts: 42   +72
This whole thing is a great demonstration of how hard issues are to solve if you don't want to solve them. NV and AMD will obviously say they're sooooo sorry, there's not much else they could say. But the reality of it is that they COULDN'T CARE LESS who buys their products and for what price. The business is rolling, anything else is negligible.

What to do if you ACTUALLY wanna solve this? Well, how about create a central B2C programme where every customer can purchase ONE card per YEAR. From ALL vendors in the programme IN TOTAL. One. Per year. Not month, year. Sane people don't replace their GPUs every month, so that monthly restriction at certain places is a laugh in itself. In fact, sane people only replace their GPUs like every 3 years TOPS, if they get the hot new thing with every generation.

Now, it wouldn't be mandatory for OEMs to join the programme, but obviously they'd risk being labelled as scalper vendors or something, And the programme would have KYC video calls to ensure the customer is legit. Like money institutions, for example.

Aaand that's about it. It worked for Sony w/ PlayStation Direct, I don't see why it wouldn't work for NV/AMD. And their Direct is even more lenient than what I've described here.
So, if I want to buy one for myself my son, I'm screwed with your plan.
 

dirtyferret

Posts: 761   +1,020
It really will end up looking very different but won't go away: I think the most likely scenario is that the first casualty will be PC based AAA gaming: you can expect at least a pretty severe stagnation in terms of asset quality as more devs start realizing "Well our sales are weaker, we can't leverage new tech like ray tracing because not enough gamers have GPUs that are capable of it"

I agree but another problem is the obvious short supply and high prices of new consoles due to chip shortages and scalpers. If (if being the key word) Sony & MS had a good supply of consoles there would be a huge migration of gamers going to consoles for their AAA title gaming creating far less demand for graphics card.
 

trparky

Posts: 1,087   +1,232
Since I'm gaming less and less these days (I really don't have time for it) and I'm doing more general-purpose stuff, I have doubts that my next machine is even going to be a Windows system. I may just grab a Mac Mini when desktop dies and hope that some games will be ported over to the Mac.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,206   +4,244
I agree but another problem is the obvious short supply and high prices of new consoles due to chip shortages and scalpers. If (if being the key word) Sony & MS had a good supply of consoles there would be a huge migration of gamers going to consoles for their AAA title gaming creating far less demand for graphics card.
It is a problem right now but it has been mitigated a bit better than GPUs simply because they cant (afaik) be put to mining.

However if you think about it, going with an a-la-carte subscription service for gaming powered by cloud computing actually solves the issue for those customers too: Can't get a PS5 or a Series X? Well get a streaming service. They can even charge a premium for the "Series X" level experience and have more aggressive bandwidth requirements (Kind of like Nvidia does with their 3080 Geforce Now tier)

Like end of the day I don't think this would hurt their premium consoles sales that much because there will be a mindset of competitive gamers that will reject the latency that's inherent to cloud based solutions but honestly, that's a tiny niche compared to the millions that are waiting to get a new console and just want to play at a casual level: having people without a console but with a decent internet connection just move to a cloud based system would probably help alleviate the need to sell as many consoles in the public.

Plus in the case of Microsoft you can even sell on the option of "Once you get a console you can select to download your most competitive games to SSD to make sure you have no latency or wait times for a console spot or anything" so the console itself it's still important but more as a tool to transition people into fully streaming based solutions.
 
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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,364   +5,590
It is a problem right now but it has been mitigated a bit better than GPUs simply because they cant (afaik) be put to mining.

However if you think about it, going with an a-la-carte subscription service for gaming powered by cloud computing actually solves the issue for those customers too: Can't get a PS5 or a Series X? Well get a streaming service. They can even charge a premium for the "Series X" level experience and have more aggressive bandwidth requirements.

Like end of the day I don't think this would hurt their premium consoles sales that much because there will be a mindset of competitive gamers that will reject the latency that's inherent to cloud based solutions but honestly, that's a tiny niche compared to the millions that are waiting to get a new console and just want to play at a casual level: having people without a console but with a decent internet connection just move to a cloud based system would probably help alleviate the need to sell as many consoles in the public.

Plus in the case of Microsoft you can even sell on the option of "Once you get a console you can select to download your most competitive games to SSD to make sure you have no latency or wait times for a console spot or anything" so the console itself it's still important but more as a tool to transition people into fully streaming based solutions.
I dont know if you've ever looked into revenue, but the "casual" market moved to smartphones about 10 years ago. And somehow, that slow, overpriced hardware does not stop devs making literal billions.

The market that cares about games not lagging and running like garbage over an internet connection is the vast majority of the market. See also why numerous cloud gaming setups have gone under. Stadia wont make it another 5 years, guaranteed.

Cloud gaming is the niche market, of people willing ot pay every month for a garbage service
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,308   +7,247
As a previous employee of BBY #483, let me just say that I would NEVER pay them for any subscription nor deal with their ridiculous GPU policies. I'll keep microcenter managers as friends and eat off them.
 

Thretosix

Posts: 155   +139
Yeah, I've given up on Best Buy. I've gotten to the point where screw it, the scalpers can keep those cards. I hope they eat the costs not being able to move inventory and fall into financial ruin.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,308   +7,247
Yeah, I've given up on Best Buy. I've gotten to the point where screw it, the scalpers can keep those cards. I hope they eat the costs not being able to move inventory and fall into financial ruin.


What gets me most about BBY, is they didn't tell people early on that they wouldn't have cards in store on launch day. I got the 3080 on launch from Microcenter, but waited in line at BBY in vain. Later I got a 3070 and a 3060Ti from Microcenter - BBY finally decided to tell people "online only". Wasted a lot of people's time who didn't know their game.
 

Eflow

Posts: 46   +93
We can't buy from:

Best Buy because they imposed a $200 fee on their cards

Newegg because of their shady RMA practices

Amazon because they treat their employees like human robots

Microcenter because they only have a handful of locations

Fun times
 

pcnthuziast

Posts: 1,321   +1,103
Because Best Buy created this program for scalpers specifically. Low end consumers used to matter to the retail establishment for volume sales. Since that business model vector isn't necessary anymore, scalpers are exactly the target demographic for many of the retail markets.
 

Aceseven

Posts: 315   +398
All these terrible "fixes" to get past scalpers, when there's an easy fix staring at them.

just sell them from the store, make people come to the store, buy ONE, you dont a dozen cards, their name and card info are logged in the system(and name still works if paying with cash), boom done.

I know I know, it wont work because companies love making money no matter what, people are lazy, and this would be unfair to those who cant leave their home for some reason(hope they have friends) or they live way out in the boonies.

but what is the point of all these brick stores if they dont keep any ACTUAL inventory, may as well tear em down.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,265   +1,756
We can't buy from:

Best Buy because they imposed a $200 fee on their cards

Newegg because of their shady RMA practices

Amazon because they treat their employees like human robots

Microcenter because they only have a handful of locations

Fun times
In my opinion the NewEgg RMA controversy is a bit overblown. There is not evidence of malice so much as just incompetence and considering the general shortage of labor at the moment this is hardly surprising. None of it rises to the level of the routinely dystopian hellworld antics of Amazon or this paywall travesty by Best Buy.
 
This whole thing is a great demonstration of how hard issues are to solve if you don't want to solve them. NV and AMD will obviously say they're sooooo sorry, there's not much else they could say. But the reality of it is that they COULDN'T CARE LESS who buys their products and for what price. The business is rolling, anything else is negligible.

What to do if you ACTUALLY wanna solve this? Well, how about create a central B2C programme where every customer can purchase ONE card per YEAR. From ALL vendors in the programme IN TOTAL. One. Per year. Not month, year. Sane people don't replace their GPUs every month, so that monthly restriction at certain places is a laugh in itself. In fact, sane people only replace their GPUs like every 3 years TOPS, if they get the hot new thing with every generation.

Now, it wouldn't be mandatory for OEMs to join the programme, but obviously they'd risk being labelled as scalper vendors or something, And the programme would have KYC video calls to ensure the customer is legit. Like money institutions, for example.

Aaand that's about it. It worked for Sony w/ PlayStation Direct, I don't see why it wouldn't work for NV/AMD. And their Direct is even more lenient than what I've described here.

Restrict popular reseller items to in-store (face to face) sales only - no online and no store pickup, and only one per customer. It won't stop the problem entirely, but it will eliminate bots and people buying items in bulk and preventing regular consumers from getting their hands on one.
 
The simple solution that others have mentioned in the past is we as individuals take ownership and not purchase the cards at these prices. Scalpers are getting away with it because they are getting paid. Mr B1pper might not be so braggy about spending $17000 on GPUs if he can't sell them.
 

poohbear

Posts: 690   +620
What happened to streaming games? Wouldn't that help alleviate the demand for any of the high end cards? I'd love to have ray tracing enabled on my laptop with integrated graphics. :)