Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Next-Gen Scalper Problem Keeps Getting Worse

Scalpers are buying more next-gen consoles and reselling them at inflated prices than ever before, and the problem hasn't seemed to go away for gamers looking to purchase a new PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X after the holidays, especially in the U.K.


Scalpers have always preyed on the hottest new gadgets and toys, but the development of sophisticated bots has made scalping these products even easier this year. Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic has slowed or halted production and logistics around the world, forcing more companies to rely on online sales as a result. This has been issue for companies like Sony and Microsoft since launching their latest consoles. The weakened supply chains have been easy pickings for scalpers, who've made massive purchases online and then resold at inflated prices.

A scalper bot software called Carnage got on Twitter on Tuesday morning, Jan. 19, to gloat that its users had purchased more than 2,000 new PlayStation 5 consoles from the U.K. retailer Game after the retailer received a limited restock of the consoles, saying it "Just keeps getting easier every time," according to a report from VideoGameChronicle


With PlayStation 5 consoles selling for $500 at retail value, the scalpers would have had to have paid about $1 million for all of the consoles. That might seem like a lot, but a quick look at PlayStation 5 prices on eBay shows them going for $1,000 or more. Scalpers have sold tens of thousands of the next-gen consoles on eBay and made nearly $30 million as of early December, according to DualShockers.

In a statement to VideoGameChronicle, the U.K. retailer said it would be going through its preorders to ensure that only one PlayStation 5 is sold per customer:

"PlayStation 5's continue to be in very high demand and that demand far outweighs current supply. We have strong measures in place to help ensure that our '1 per customer' statement is maintained to allow for as many individual customers to successfully purchase as possible," it said. "All preorders are subject to automatic checks and order updates such as cancellations following these checks take place after a customer will have received a valid order confirmation email. At the present time these orders are still pre-orders and as such no payments have yet been taken from customers. Payments will commence once our order checks have been completed."


Once the hype dies down and companies like Sony are able to put more on shelves, "these scalpers will move onto something else," Eurogamer's Tom Phillips said back in November. "But Sony has also said it expects supply to be limited through almost Easter next year, so it's potentially a problem that can continue for a while yet," he added.

Carnage is far from the only scalper — and certainly not the biggest. Business Insider reported one group nabbing as many as 3,500 PS5s in November. Eurogamer's Emma Kent also reported that the U.K. retailer Very cancelled about 1,000 XBox Series X orders back in December after it discovered a large scalper ring, which included cancellations from honest buyers as well. 

As frustrating as it is, the best thing is to have patience. In the meantime, you can read about scalpers getting what they deserve