Yesterday afternoon we were reminded in no uncertain terms that next-gen scalpers remain an ever-present issue for those struggling to get their hands on a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Both consoles proven incredibly hard for would-be customers to secure since launch, and this hasn't been helped by scalpers who use bots to jump queues and scoop up what little there is, only to sell it on at massively inflated prices.
Only yesterday a "UK/EU dedicated toy and miscellaneous collectibles bot" called Carnage openly boasted about how it had secured 2,000 PlayStation 5 consoles during GAME's very limited restock. The bot was swiftly called out and its Twitter page was set to private as GAME promised it would be checking all orders to ensure fair play. Unfortunately, as they long as there are bots that can jump queues, the problem will remain.
Hope may well be on the horizon, at least here in the UK. Late last year the UK Government took the first steps for action against scalpers, with dozens of MPs calling for outright bans on bots just like Carnage. While it was unclear if this would lead anywhere, Scottish National Party MP Douglas Chapman recently reiterated the importance of taking action against scalpers, revealing that he's planning to propose a bill in parliament.
Chapman told BBC Radio 4: "It's simply not in the consumer's interests to have lots of stock for in demand, very exciting new products just being bought up en masse. It doesn't give the ordinary consumer fair access to the market... It's just so unfair for the ordinary person who just wants to play their game or give a gift to their child for Christmas. This situation's just going to get worse and worse."
Chapman added that he's been disappointed by government's current response so far. Six Scottish National Party members put forth an Early Day Motion late last year that called for legislative proposals "prohibiting the resale of gaming consoles and computer components at prices greatly above Manufacturer's Recommended Retail Price.
Early Day Motions are essentially a way for MPs to formally draw attention to a specific subject and call for an actual debate on the matter. The motion was supported by just 30 fellow MPs at the time, which suggests it could be something of an uphill battle for Chapman as he attempts to get the government to take this seriously. As he argued to BBC Radio 4 host Winifred Robinson, as bots become more easily available, it might not be long until scalpers are buying up essential items as well as luxury ones like new consoles.
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