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Scalpers and bots reportedly driving PS5 shortages

One UK-based group claims to have secured nearly 3,500 next-gen consoles for resale

A new report has thrown the impact of scalpers and bots on PlayStation 5's launch into sharp relief.

Business Insider spoke to groups who have secured large quantities of the new console and are reselling them at an inflated price.

One UK-based group, CrepChiefNotify, told the site its 12 members had collectively purchased close to 2,472 PS5 units in recent weeks, plus "just under 1,000" when pre-orders first opened in September.

Groups like this are usually competing with each other over high-price items, such as designer sneakers, as well as other products that have seen a dramatic increase in demand during the pandemic.

"Our developer wrote some site monitor software, and we tracked the stock of the sites selling hot tubs," said Tom, a CrepChiefNotify manager, by way of example. "Every time they pinged into stock, we would notify our members to buy it all."

The group used the same software to monitor retail sites for Xbox Series X|S and PS5 stock, as well as bots that could circumvent wait times, jump online queues and purchase consoles faster than a human being would be able to.

"Bot developers have seen the demand rise for next-gen consoles," said Tom. "[They] have changed their focus from being sneaker-focused bots into multi-use bots for electronics too."

Business Insider reports one individual reseller was charging $1,100 for the $500 disc-based PS5 and $900 for the $400 digital-only model. Meanwhile, groups like CrepChiefNotify charge anyway between $40 and $530 as a subscription to their service.

PS5 launched on November 12 is key markets, and then the rest of the world on November 19.

In a recent interview with Russian news agency Tass, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said launch allocations have flown off the shelves everywhere, saying: "Everything is sold. Absolutely everything is sold."

Last month, our contributing editor Rob Fahey pointed to the struggles over pre-orders for both next-gen consoles -- and the role scalpers played there -- as proof that hardware launches and online pre-order systems need to be re-evaluated.

Similar reports of bot-wielding scalpers emerged earlier this year when Nintendo Switch suffered shortages just as many regions of the world were going into lockdown.

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James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was