PlayStation 5 and the scalper problem

Last year November Sony Entertainment released the highly awaited PlayStation 5 console which millions of people have been waiting for to purchase. However, it did not take long until the hype turned into frustration and anger for most of the fans as the majority was not able to obtain a console. Not only did the first batch of PS5’s not match the huge demand, but scalpers became a big issue. There are several reasons why there is such a shortage for the new PlayStation, a general lack of chips world wide for the console is also a significant contributor, but scalpers have not made the situation necessarily better. Quite the opposite.


What are scalpers?

Most of you probably already know what exactly scalpers are and it’s not really complicated. Scalpers are people who buy a (preferably hyped) product, such as the PS5, as soon as it is released and resell it for a higher price. This often seems to happen for concert tickets of highly popular celebrities, as an example. But it also happened on a large scale to the new PlayStation Console. Scalpers were buying the PS5 in huge amounts from all different kinds of web-shops and reselling them for abnormal prices. Often they would sell them for double the price, and I have seen some for triple or even four times the price shortly after the release.

How did scalpers get hold on so many consoles?

Millions of people were waiting for the PS5 to release and were eagerly waiting on web-shops, constantly hitting the refresh button, until the PlayStation would finally be put on stock. There were so many people trying to purchase one that some websites could not run properly anymore. Some would crash and often you could not even get on them anymore. I recall wanting to see if there were any in stock (maybe I would be super lucky I hoped) on MediaMarkt, but the page would not load.

Despite so many people trying to get it a lot of the PS5’s fell into the hands of scalpers. But how was it that exactly the scalpers were so lucky to get them? Actually, they weren’t lucky, they just played unfairly and used bots. These scalper bots scan the websites of web-shops and “buy” the product before a normal person can even continue to the checkout. But legitimate web-shops should have a security against bots, right? Unfortunately, even bots are really sophisticated now. Lance Whitney in an article posted on TechRepublic explains: “Using different tricks, the bots are able to fool retail sites into thinking that they’re legitimate customers. By obtaining a valid cookie, they scrape the website’s inventory to impersonate a human being. The bots are even loaded with CAPTCHA-solving solutions that solve these kinds of Turing tests, which are designed to block such automated tools.”

Needless to say, how could a normal buyer have a chance against bots?

But the scalper prices are finally decreasing

While the price of a PlayStation 5 is still higher than the normal market price, they are significantly decreasing now. One reason could be fake bids made to the scalpers who sell the consoles. You make sure you make the highest bid and then cancel or just do not pay last minute. It is a lot of time wasted for the scalper and they will lose other potential buyers as they planned to sell it you, the highest bidder. This, eventually, will lead them to lower their price. Certain web-shops have also started to take measures in order to guarantee that the PS5’s are sold to genuine customers, like having to sign up with your e-mail address and name, and then some people will be randomly chosen to buy the console. This is how I was able to get the console from Cool Blue.