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This May Be The Hardest Problem To Fix For Next-Gen Consoles

The next gaming generation is off to a rough start. Not only did consoles sell out in a matter of minutes when pre-orders went live, but many customers who purchased in advance received news that their consoles will arrive late. If you weren't quick on the draw, you might have to wait a long time before you can get your hands on a console, and not just because COVID-19 is slowing down production. That is part of the problem, but the true culprit is much more insidious: scalpers.

PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S consoles have recently been sold out all over the place, including the normal suspects such as Amazon, Best Buy, and Target. Auction sites like eBay, meanwhile, have copious amounts of consoles — for at least double the suggested retail price. On eBay, PS5s go for anywhere between $1000 and $2000, and the same goes for the Xbox Series X. Moreover, many of the listing pictures feature stacks of consoles that exceed in-store stocks, the sure-fire calling card of the scalper.

According to reports from sites such as GameSpot, scalpers are acquiring so many consoles because they use bots. The literal nanosecond a PS5 or Series X goes up for sale/pre-order, these automated programs pounce, purchasing as many as they can. By the time the average flesh and blood gamer can log in, they're already too late.

Scalpers and their bots are a recipe for a long-lasting next-gen console problem. Production is down due to COVID, and internet sales are up because of the rise in online shopping — also due to COVID. Since scalpers are scooping consoles as soon as they pop up, you either need to have more luck than a lottery winner and snag a console at $500, or you need to play ball with these unscrupulous resellers.

However, if history is any teacher, it demonstrates all is not lost. Scalpers tried a similar tactic when NVIDIA's RTX 3080 hit the market: Use bots to buy as many graphics cards as possible, create artificial scarcity, and drive up eBay reseller prices to make a quick buck. Eventually, the bots became the resellers' undoing, as eBay banned accounts linked to these scalpers, and NVIDIA beefed up store security to weed out the mass-buying programs.

Given demand for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, history might repeat itself. Console manufacturers will most likely continue to release a trickle of products, and scalpers and their bots will likewise continue to snatch them away from real buyers. However, as scalper prices inflate, fewer and fewer gamers might purchase the consoles through eBay. With a bit of self-control and patience, legit gamers stand a chance of starve scalpers and finally acquire next-gen consoles.