Walmart blocked 20 million PS5 scalper bots in 30 minutes

midian182

Posts: 6,894   +62
Staff member
WTF?! Scalpers and the bots they use have been a scourge to all gamers hoping to grab a PS5/Xbox Series X/new PC hardware this season. But some retailers have succeeded in fighting back against the practice, including Walmart, which claims it blocked tens of millions of bots attempting to grab the PlayStation 5.

Jerry Geisler, Walmart Global Tech's Chief Information Security Officer, writes that one of the preventative actions the company implemented just hours before the PlayStation 5 event on November 25 blocked more than 20 million bot attempts within the first 30 minutes alone.

Geisler also notes that any making it through then faced audits, with all orders confirmed to have been bought by bots canceled by the firm. "As a result, the vast majority of our next-gen consoles have been purchased by legitimate customers, which is exactly what we want," the post reads.

There's also a recommendation that lawmakers do more to prevent bots from swarming retail sites. In the UK, 26 politicians have signed a motion that could eventually lead to a ban on the resale of items purchased using automated bots.

To highlight just how bad scalping has been this season, Bloomberg notes that the usual ratio of new consoles sold to games purchased for that machine is one to one. In Japan, where Sony sold around 213,000 PlayStation 5 consoles, the top three titles sold fewer than 63,000 units, not counting digital downloads. That's about three consoles for every one game, illustrating just how many people have bought PS5s for the sole purpose of reselling them.

Despite Walmart's apparent success, getting hold of a PS5 remains a near-impossible task, though the company says it will have more next-gen consoles arriving online soon.

Earlier this month, a scalper company that secured almost 3,500 PS5 units for its members said it had "no regrets." We've also heard that scalpers have generated nearly $40 million in profit from the holidays' top tech products.

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stewi0001

Posts: 2,627   +2,259
Pretty sure Walmart failed at (or didn't even try) blocking bots when I was trying to get their black Friday deal on the Switch.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,999   +5,604
All EBAY needs to do is stop allowing scalped consoles to be sold at more than 5% above retail.

That would destroy the entire scalper network because they’d find themselves with no way to sell the units and be forced to refund them.

eBay’s infrastructure serves to secure, protect and insure transactions.

Scalpers don’t want to use Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist because it’s too unsafe for them.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,334   +1,216
All EBAY needs to do is stop allowing scalped consoles to be sold at more than 5% above retail....Scalpers don’t want to use Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist because it’s too unsafe for them.

As of today, there are a dozen PS5s on Craigslist in my city alone. I didn't check Facebook, but these two are hardly the only alternatives to Ebay. Ban sales on all 3 platforms, and you'll just move scalpers to some other venue. Net accomplishment: zero. The only true solution is for console makers to raise their MSRP to a more reasonable level, at least temporarily.

Finally, given that you've stated you've sold 3 3090s already, with at least one enough above MSRP to "make it worth your while", I'm not sure you have room to complain about scalping.

(Edit: much more than a dozen on sale; I didn't look closely enough.)
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,436   +1,614
TechSpot Elite
I'll preface this with "Wal-Mart is a terrible corporation and I almost never set foot in one of their stores (being a Costco member helps with that for sure).

However, I gotta say "Right on!" to Wal-Mart becuse they achieved something that Amazon, Newegg and the nVidia store all failed miserably at.

Maybe this will prompt those other outlets will get their stools together. :D
 
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terzaerian

Posts: 960   +1,398
This, not legislation, is what we need to see. The merchants in the private sector are better positioned and more knowledgeable about this process and remedies for it than any politician is ever going to be.
 

Hollow

Posts: 38   +19
All EBAY needs to do is stop allowing scalped consoles to be sold at more than 5% above retail.

That would destroy the entire scalper network because they’d find themselves with no way to sell the units and be forced to refund them.

eBay’s infrastructure serves to secure, protect and insure transactions.

Scalpers don’t want to use Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist because it’s too unsafe for them.

And how are you supposed to program that... First is guessing the product and it's quality from title/image/description then browsing all websites of the country, make an average and verify price.

This is not easily done.
 

Crinkles

Posts: 116   +112
I'll preface this with "Wal-Mart is a terrible corporation and I almost never set foot in one of their stores (being a Costco member helps with that for sure).

I thought it was Apple. Make that Intel, no Nvidia...wait...

Why not start at the top? Everything priced too high for a sensible person should be made cheaper. Then legislate it. Go after the resulting black market. Hey there's money in this, let's criminalize the outlets.
And IMPRISON the criminals. Repeat WAR ON xxxxx. Ollie peddles PS5's to North Korea. Reset.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,999   +5,604
And how are you supposed to program that... First is guessing the product and it's quality from title/image/description then browsing all websites of the country, make an average and verify price.

This is not easily done.


#1 enter the product description and UPC as a flagged item.

#2 Have the buyers themselves flag the item and then impose an MSRP limit.

Ebay has AI that automatically acts when you make small mistakes in a listing or type something they recommend you not type.
 

psycros

Posts: 3,489   +4,137
Shopping bots are available as Chrome addons. When its that easy, of course everyone is going to be doing it. Major retailers need to be talking to Google about this issue.
 

brucek

Posts: 811   +1,130
TechSpot Elite
The lack of software sales reported here is interesting to me. If the scalpers were flipping their units quickly, the ratio of games-to-consoles should be hardly affected. If it is being severely affected (1:1 instead of 3:1), it implies that scalpers are being more effective in obtaining the consoles than reselling them. Let's hope they get stuck with them.

(*edit: I see they're not counting digital downloads. Oops. That probably means this stat is more about consumers having switched to digital more so than the last launch.)

 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,436   +1,614
TechSpot Elite
This, not legislation, is what we need to see. The merchants in the private sector are better positioned and more knowledgeable about this process and remedies for it than any politician is ever going to be.
In a perfect world, sure, I'd be the first to agree with your sentiment but this world is far from perfect. The problem I see here is that this is the exception, not the rule. Sellers make the same profit regardless of who the buyer is so the motivation just isn't there. After all, implementing safeguards costs money. The private sector is averse to increasing costs without increasing profit. That's what they call "fiscal efficiency".

Legislation would be a good motivator because if everyone has to do it, the cost of the implementation will go down and nobody gets an advantage by not doing it. Of course, the catch-22 to this is that my definition of a politician is:
"Any person who takes two years to make a decision that would take the average person two minutes."
So we're kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place.
 
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Kshipper

Posts: 545   +124
TechSpot Elite
I heard this story: One of the sources of buyers of these overpriced consoles are people that are running a lottery. They sell tickets at $25 each. They sell enough to generate $4500 then they pay the $1000 inflated price on Ebay/Craigslist and pocket the profit.