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A hot potato: Many consumers who were excited about buying a PS5, Xbox Series X/S, RTX 3000-series, and other tech products have been disappointed by their lack of availability this season. It's no secret that scalpers are behind a lot of these problems, but one UK group says it has "no regrets" facilitating the purchase of almost 3,500 PlayStation 5 consoles to resell at inflated prices.
The PS5's availability has suffered more than most gaming hardware released recently. Referring to its console, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said that "everything is sold. Absolutely everything is sold." The company later promised more stock before the end of the year following "unprecedented" demand, but much of it could be snapped up by scalpers, again.
While demand for these products was always going to be high, the pandemic has made them even more coveted—and scalpers are taking advantage. Business Insider spoke to some groups that use monitoring software and bots to secure vast quantities of PS5s before anyone else. One of these, CrepChiefNotify, which is made up of 12 core management staff, said its members purchased close to 2,472 consoles in recent weeks, plus "just under 1,000" when pre-orders first opened in September.
Congratulations to our members 🎉— CrepChiefNotify (@CrepChiefNotify) November 20, 2020
In less than 24 hours of the release of the PS5 and our members have secured over 2,500 consoles this morning.
Stop missing out, reselling isn't going away so jump in fast and maximise your profits. pic.twitter.com/WUTBFWNHfE
CrepChiefNotify charges $40 per month or $530 for a lifetime subscription so members can access its services. Like similar companies, its original targets were high-end sneakers such as Yeezys, but the group evolved when the pandemic hit.
"During the first Covid-19 lockdown, we noticed a huge shift in products that people were buying," manager 'Tom' told Business Insider. "The focus shifted towards the most ridiculous things, like outdoor hot tubs. We noticed that these began selling out in stores, and reselling on eBay for a profit. So our developer wrote some site monitor software, and we tracked the stock of the sites selling hot tubs! Every time they pinged into stock, we would notify our members to buy it all."
Right now, the only way to secure a PlayStation 5 is to buy one from eBay for a price that verges on the comical. The most expensive (on the US site) is $15,000, while the vast majority of those under that are at least $2,000.
With parents having to explain to disappointed children that they won't be getting a new console this year, do the scalpers and those that facilitate their actions feel guilty? CrepChiefNotify certainly doesn't. It writes (via Video Games Chronicle) that lots of its members have been furloughed, made redundant, or are somehow disadvantage due to the pandemic, though you have to wonder how they afford the monthly fee and the price of at least one PS5 console.
"These people have managed to cover their bills, put food on the table and supply Christmas presents to their children," the company wrote.
"It may be unfortunate that a child wont [sic] wake up to a PS5 this Christmas, but another child may have woken up to nothing. We have no regrets."
It also denies that bots were ever used to secure PlayStation 5 units, despite a manager suggesting to Business Insider that this was the case.
If you are planning to buy a PS5 from eBay, make sure to avoid the numerous listings for "photographs" of the console, which as the name suggests, are just photos and not the machines themselves. And you thought scalpers were bad.
"Merry Christmas, Jimmy. Here's a photo of that console you wanted"