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News hardware & software 11 February 2021, 18:00

author: Bart Swiatek

PS5 Scalpers Attempt to Improve Their Image

In an interview with the editors of one of the industry websites, the so-called scalpers - intermediaries who buy goods in bulk and resell them for profit - complain about how badly their business has been perceived recently.

IN A NUTSHELL:

  1. Scalpers involved in reselling overpriced hardware - including PS5 and Xbox Series X - want to warm up their image;
  2. In an interview with Forbes journalists, several of them tried to present their business in a different, more favorable light;
  3. The article also shows some of the scalpers' methods of operation.

In November, last year, a new generation of consoles - PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S - hit the market. Unfortunately, in practice, the acquisition of these devices can be quite a challenge. One of the reasons is scalping, which is a practice involving bulk purchase of the devices in order to resell them at higher price. Such activities have met with considerable criticism, and even drawn the attention of lawmakers in some countries. Scalpers are clearly not happy with their current image and would like the public to look at them with a more favorable eye (via Forbes).

"There seems to be A LOT of bad press on this incredibly valuable industry and I do not feel that it is justified, all we are acting as is a middleman for limited-quantity items. Essentially every business resells their products. Tesco, for example, buys milk from farmers for 26p or so per liter and sells it on for upwards of 70p per liter. No one ever seems to complain to the extent as they are currently doing towards ourselves," argues Jordan, a member of a (paid) scalper advisory group The Lab.

Forbes' interviewee praises his business, pointing out that he is now mainly involved in helping others.

"I mainly just try and help others now, that’s all that really matters to me. The whole group came about near the start of the first UK lockdown and it makes me so happy that I can help people make some extra money for themselves.

We do a lot for charity as well. I myself or collectively as a group donate to charity almost monthly at this point. Most notably over the past month, we donated a large portion of our membership fees to a food bank local to me," said Jordan (interestingly and symptomatically, despite a reporter's request, he did not provide details to said organization).

It's worth noting that scalpers use special bots in their activities, which enables them to avoid security measures introduced by stores and speed up the purchase process. For example, the Velox bot enables them to get past an additional layer of security used in some countries for transactions called 3D Secure. Some programs are even said to be able to avoid the browser by interacting directly with the store's server. All this is done in order to gain an advantage over the average Joe, who is then offered a console for three times the retail price.

"There are bots that interact with servers, and there are bots that interact with the web browser - mine interacted with a web browser. So it can only go as fast as a website will let you go. It works faster than a normal human, but there are other bots that, you know, people would be selling for thousands of dollars that will beat my bot every time," said about his program a scalper knew as Alex.

It should be noted that scalpers are often not just individuals - they are well-organized, thriving companies that often hire full-time employees and put a lot of effort to swipe the devices from the market faster than ordinary bread eaters.

"Our group monitors hundreds of websites waiting to notify members of restocks. The website I was able to get checkouts from was GAME, which the monitors notified us at around 10 am GMT that PS5 stock had been loaded onto the backend of the website," said Jordan.

  1. PS5 Review - A Promise of a Better Tomorrow
  2. PlayStation 5 - official website
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