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World UK gamers and politicians take aim at console 'scalpers'

10:07  20 march  2021
10:07  20 march  2021 Source:   afp.com

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The motion, titled 'Resale of gaming consoles and computer components purchased by automated bots' was sponsored this week by six MPs from the Scottish National Party, and has since received support from four other MPs. And it's not just consoles - NVIDIA's recent graphics card releases have also been affected by scalpers , and often sold out at similarly high speeds. We've reached out to the Scottish National Party for more information, and we'll update this story if we learn more. If you're struggling to find console stock this festive season, here are some more of the best gifts for gamers .

Over the past months, console resellers have made a fortune due to the ongoing PS5 and Xbox Series X / Series S shortages caused in part due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Now, according to VGC, six lawmakers in the UK are calling for legislation that would prohibit the sale of gaming consoles and computer An analysis from a data engineer concluded that scalpers made million in sales and million in profit since September from next-gen consoles and high-end computer components, with services like eBay and PayPal taking a cut of around .6 million and .4 million, respectively.

Furious British gamers and lawmakers are training their sights on "scalpers" who are buying up coveted PS5 and Xbox consoles and selling them online at vastly inflated prices.

a person sitting in front of a computer screen: While a PS5 normally costs between £360 and £450 ($500/$627, 420/525 euros) depending on the model, its median resale price on sites like eBay is £650-750, according to US researcher Michael Driscoll. © CHARLY TRIBALLEAU While a PS5 normally costs between £360 and £450 ($500/$627, 420/525 euros) depending on the model, its median resale price on sites like eBay is £650-750, according to US researcher Michael Driscoll.

The popular consoles have also been hard to come by in other parts of the world, but in Britain anger has boiled over to the point where some lawmakers want to ban the practice of reselling them online at higher prices.

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But now a group of politicians hopes to take action, as several MPs have put forward a motion in UK Parliament to prohibit the resale of consoles and PC parts that are significantly overpriced. As spotted by VGC, the motion tabled by six Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs calls for the government to introduce legislation to prohibit the resale of gaming The groups snapping up consoles and graphics cards have reportedly been using bots to scour the internet to find the items, allowing scalpers to beat legitimate customers to the punch by purchasing consoles far faster than any human could.

The motion states: “new releases of gaming consoles and computer components should be available to all customers at no more than the Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Price, and not be bought in bulk by the use of automated bots which often circumvent maximum purchase quantities imposed by With PS5 and Xbox Series X/S availability failing to satisfy launch demand, next-gen console scalpers have sought to cash in over the past month by selling them at extortionate prices on marketplaces like eBay , where a significant number of consoles have been sold for more than double their retail price.

"I've been trying to get a PS5 for four months now, but I can't get one at a normal price," said Tracey Ford, a student in Manchester, northwest England.

The 24-year-old gamer has made frequent visits to the store, and registered for alerts when new stocks arrive -- but nothing has worked.

"It's so frustrating", she told AFP.

The cause of her anger is console "scalping", in which people use "bots" to snap up huge quantities of stock online faster than regular consumers can, and resell them at sky-high prices.

The practice, which is legal in the UK, is usually associated with concert tickets and limited edition footwear.

But it has taken on a new dimension with the release of two highly-anticipated consoles at the end of 2020: the Sony PlayStation 5 and the Microsoft Xbox.

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"New releases of gaming consoles and computer components should be available to all customers at no more than the Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Price, and not be bought in bulk by the use of automated bots which often circumvent maximum purchase quantities imposed by the retailer.” The report also adds that banning bots would stop scalpers the "chance to make themselves vast profits at the expense of genuine gamers and computer users, while also deterring fraudulent cybercriminal activity.”

On Monday, December 14, politicians in the United Kingdom put forth a motion to ban increasingly unpopular scalpers and automated bots. This early day motion focuses specifically on the sale of gaming consoles and computer components. Much like the secondary ticket sales market, the UK Government can pass restrictions on scalping . By eliminating a secondhand market rife with exorbitant prices, supporters of the motion are hopeful they can curb scalpers from making millions. Fortunately, sponsors of this early day motion are aware of the problem lying deep beneath the surface, resellers

While a PS5 normally costs between £360 and £450 ($500/$627, 420/525 euros) depending on the model, its median resale price on sites like eBay is £650-750, according to US researcher Michael Driscoll.

Faced with an in-store shortage, many gamers pay full price, which only feeds the market further.

- Juicy profits -

Driscoll estimates that around 52,000 copies of both consoles have been resold in Britain on eBay and StockX for a total of £42 million, generating £10 million in profit.

That figure is likely to hugely underestimate the problem as it only takes into account the "grey market" and not the black market, "which is definitely larger", said Driscoll, who is from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

The sudden surge in console scalping is being driven by much stronger demand than usual, with gamers having "extra money due to be not be able to travel" because of coronavirus restrictions, he added.

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These resellers (or scalpers ) aim to take advantage of desperate gamers , as well as parents who want to fulfill their child's Christmas wish. While hundreds of individuals buy consoles just to prey on impatient users, there are also more established organizations. The scalper group has thousands of members, each attempting to buy up PS5 consoles whenever they're available. This group is based in the UK , and it's far from the only collection of scalpers out there. According to a manager at reseller organization CrepChiefNotify, the company has 2,472 consoles across all members, on top of just

Console scalping has hit the gaming community harder than it ever has - should it be illegal? Prices on eBay, Facebook, and Amazon are absurd. The gaming community may need to fight back to bring an end to this immoral act. Laws have done nothing, but is there a way to get justice? While areas have taken notice of scalping tickets, this type of law has not been expanded to stop people from scalping other items. Each year, items like consoles , collectibles, and games, get resold at higher values than they are worth. Companies do little to prevent this action from happening.

"Plus there is a global shortage of high-end silicon used for making good computer chips," he said.

The Nvidia RTX30 graphic card and processors from US chip manufacturer AMD are also being sold at inflated prices online, but consoles are the worst hit, according to Driscoll.

Driscoll believes the situation will "eventually stabilise" as more gamers get hold of stock and push down demand.

But if the same marketplace conditions exist in five years when the PlayStation 6 is due to come out, he warned: "It's going to happen again."

- Endgame -

Many gamers are calling on manufacturers to address the issue.

But neither Sony nor Microsoft have spoken out, and declined requests for comment from AFP.

Others say that responsibility lies with the outlets selling consoles in the first place, such as CeX, Currys, PC World and Argos.

Argos said that it has "stringent processes in place" to prevent its stocks of PS5 rapidly selling out.

"As part of this, PlayStation 5's are limited to one per customer and any duplicate orders are cancelled," said a spokeswoman.

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But it is far cry from measures demanded by gamers, who want websites to use a "Captcha" test, which asks users to complete a task that robots cannot perform.

Several scalpers contacted by AFP declined to comment.

A group of British MPs filed a bill in mid-December to ban the "unfair" practice.

People are "very angry", said Douglas Chapman, a Scottish National Party MP who tabled the bill after dozens of calls from his constituents.

The proposal is still under consideration but has little chance of succeeding, according to Chapman, although he hopes it will "put pressure on the government to take action".

The culture ministry said it was "discussing this issue with the trade association for the video games industry... who we understand are currently looking at any further actions" to prevent it happening.

But Daniel Sumner, a 35-year-old gamer living in Plymouth, southwest England, believes a light financial penalty "certainly won't work" in the face of huge profits to be made by scalping.

"I feel sorry for a lot of people who work hard to buy consoles only to find themselves unable to afford them," he said.

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