Scalpers Reveal Simple Solution That Would Stop Them Dominating Releases
Scalping and reselling have impacted the launch of most major releases over the past few years, but what can companies do about it?
The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 have been much more difficult to get hold of than previous console generations. COVID-19 introduced production issues, but the largest hindrance in getting the consoles has been scalpers.
Scalping is simply the act of buying products to resell at a higher price. With the help of bots that automate the buying process at speed, scalpers have been able to purchase products in bulk and leave a lot of consumers wanting. On the back of this, the mere mention of the practice will boil the blood of someone who is still using a dusty gaming system.
The issue of scalping has long existed in other areas such as fashion and live music, but the shortage of new consoles has brought the issue to the forefront of collective consciousness. If someone has a new console now, it is considered a feat comparable to a heist. As a result, those who haven’t managed to make a getaway with a console are complaining about the availability of the products.
So much so, the British government has considered intervening. Gamers have told us that they want government ID to be required for scalping equipment or restrictive licenses on the software. However, at the moment, the power seems to be in the hands of the retailers and manufacturers of the goods.
With plenty of people opposed to scalping, it has raised questions about what can be done about the situation, and why people continue to resell. Fortunately, two scalpers have sat down with us to discuss the practice and shed light on what companies are doing to stop it.
While many would like companies to crack down on scalping, a reseller of electronics named Evan Dvorak told UNILAD that he wasn’t concerned. He said, ‘People scalping actually helps the company.’
Dvorak explained, ‘People scalping shoes helps Nike and other retailers since they drive up the demand much more than what it would have been originally.’ Supporting this statement, he added, ‘If these companies truly wanted to completely eradicate people buying bulk pairs, it would already be done.’
Another scalper going by the name of John, who started by selling Nvidia graphics cards last year, highlighted how easy it would be for companies to stop scalpers.
Many of us scalpers (including me) use bots to secure their merchandise, so I definitely believe that companies can easily combat them. All it takes is a captcha and scalpers have a much harder time of getting products.
This relatively simple measure could be introduced, and captcha security effectively checks if people are robots through questions related to images. However, not all retailers and large companies are using this method to ensure that people can get their hands on desired products at retail price.
Some UK console retailers have now clarified their position amid difficulties in acquiring gaming systems.
Certain retailers appear to be tackling scalpers and restricting the ability to buy multiple consoles after an initial shock at the levels of scalping.
An Argos spokesperson told Trusted Reviews about the measures the company had taken, saying:
We have stringent processes in place to make sure our customers get the best possible experience when shopping with us. As part of this, PlayStation 5s are limited to one per customer and any duplicate orders are cancelled.
GAME has also implemented a similar system to get the consoles in as many different homes as possible. Nonetheless, scalpers still appear to be dominating the market, and this raises questions about what manufacturers can do if captcha security doesn’t become widely used.
Electronics scalper John said, ‘It doesn’t take a whole lot of thought to realise that companies would only fight scalping to get good PR.’ Despite pointing to a PR stunt, the scalper did add that he was worried that companies will begin to do this to gain favour with consumers.
Within days of John expressing this concern, Xbox Insider unveiled a new scheme to prioritise its loyal customers. Xbox Insider is typically used for piloting programmes, and has launched a ‘Console Purchase Pilot’. Xbox One owners simply need to ‘register for a chance to reserve an Xbox Series X|S console’.
While this scheme will reward some loyal customers, this won’t help newcomers to the console market. Although many will see it as a step forward, this unique and applauded proposition isn’t a blanket response to scalping that helps all consumers. As a result of these efforts not impacting large numbers of consumers, scalpers don’t think that the situation will radically change.
Evan discussed the current situation and his thoughts about how scalping may alter:
The only way for [companies] to [stop scalping] would be to make the products always available, which won’t be happening for years now because of the shortage. But even if they had the option to now, after seeing how effective a shortage is at creating demand and driving sales, we couldn’t be certain that they would make the products always in stock.
The outlook for those who are struggling to get consoles and limited goods is bleak, particularly with continued shortages. The chances to get a console are few and far between, with consumers needing to be quick to buy what they want. This has led to plenty of animosity towards scalpers.
Interestingly, the interactions scalpers have with other people online are the only real downside that they are facing.
The average Twitter user nowadays froths at the mouth when they see me advertising, jealous they don’t have enough money to purchase my merchandise. Death threat, attempts at doxxing etc have all been hurled at me.
With this in mind, the pressure from consumers appears to be the only major obstacle that all scalpers are up against. It does, however, go without saying that no one should be threatening people, and it should be retailers and manufacturers who tackle the problem for consumers.
In terms of what companies can do going forward, the implementation of captcha security, one item per person policies, and registration lists for purchases could all be effective. However, this would need to be a unified effort from retailers and manufacturers to significantly impact the practice of scalping.
At the moment, it doesn’t look like these collective measures will be introduced anytime soon.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
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