Scalpers have been a real scourge during the launch of PS5 and Xbox Series X. But they’ve been able to get away with their nefarious tactics by using scalper bots – here’s how they work.
Just in case you didn’t know, scalpers are people (and we use the term loosely) who buy up as much PS5 and Xbox Series X stock as they can – so others can’t. Then sell their own stock to these people for highly inflated places.
Essentially, they increase the demand by controlling the supply. They profit at the expense of other consumers, as well as Sony and Microsoft.
Scalpers are hoping that those desperate enough for a next-gen console will pay their insane prices. Or that shoppers won’t realize that they are paying well over the retail value. For example, a parent wanting to please their child on Christmas morning.
The good news is retailers and people in general are becoming wise to scalpers tactics. Efforts are being made to prevent them from doing what they do, but many are scalpers are still getting away with it.
Although some rather heroic trolls are teaching the scalpers a lesson.
But how do scalpers manage to buy so much stock so quickly? They do this by utilizing tools called scalping bots.
How Do Scalping Bots Work?
Scalping bots are just shopping bots, a perfectly legitimate tool for online shopping. But scalpers abuse the software and use it en masse. Or they develop their own scalping bots from pre-existing shopping bots.
Let’s look at the BestBuy Bot for example. This is a third-party shopping bot that exists to help online shoppers purchase goods from BestBuy when they are away from their computers.
The BestBuy bot allows users to add an item to their cart then Auto Checkout on the collection page, using specific keywords and instructions. Making the scalper bots ready ahead of time.
It means shoppers can secure an item using the bots AI without needing to log on themselves. Very helpful for those who will be asleep or at work when an item goes on sale. Their website says:
“Buying a bot can increase your success chances only but no guarantee that you will successfully cart each time. There is no refund at all if you could not succeed, but if the bot gets outdated, then we can update it. If you do not agree, then please do not buy our products or services.”
Software like this can be misused by scalpers, as scalpers are usually well funded and won’t mind paying the BestBuy Bot’s fees. However, the creators of the bot would argue that the fee deters scalpers from misusing their software. It may, in some cases.
But a well-organized and well-funded group of scalpers will likely create their own scalping bots. They will then apply the same principle but to a greater extreme.
No wonder so many people are struggling to get hold of a PS5 or Xbox Series X because of scalping bots. For example, look at how much this scalping group made from resale.
Let’s just hope the work being done to fight scalpers is successful. If you're still trying to secure a PS5 or Xbox Series X, try our stock tracker for updates and alerts.