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Meet your biggest enemy in buying a PS5 – grinch bots

How the grinch bots stole Christmas.

Playstation 5 controller on table dualsense
Image: Unsplash

In news that will surprise precisely nobody, it’s still virtually impossible to get hold of a PS5. You currently have two options; pray to all the deities you can think of and hope you manage to snag one in a restock or pay exorbitant prices through a scalper.

I’m 95% sure the thoughts and prayers route isn’t going to work, so it looks like you’re stuck with the second option. These soul-sucking scumbags (I’m not bitter) use bots to snap up as many PlayStation 5 consoles as possible.

In the spirit of the season, though, the robots that scalpers use are earning themselves a fun little name: grinch bots.

You’re a mean one

Playstation 5 consoles
Image: Sony

Look, it’s long been a point of contention that bots have been used for almost anything popular. Concert tickets appear soon after release on reselling sites thanks to these irritating shits, and they’ve even been used to order limited-edition Nikes before anyone else can get in there.

But how they actually work, as well as the techniques employed by the scalpers who use them, is becoming more and more sophisticated all the time. It causes massive headaches for the retailers themselves, who are fighting to get one step ahead.

In a piece on The Washington Post, they reported that blocked 20 million bot attempts in the first 30 minutes after a Black Friday console deal launched. Target is also focusing efforts on bots by constantly tracking and blocking fraudulent purchase attempts.

You really are a heel

It might feel like these retailers don’t care as long as they get their money, but it seems as though they do actually put effort into eliminating illegitimate buying.

IP trackers have also been employed by retailers, although these are relatively easy to work around by using proxies. Even CAPTCHAs, the bane of literally any site where you have to fill one in, have been circumvented.

Weirdly, these have been dodged by using subscriptions where humans fill them out in real-time. So computer programs are hiring humans now. We truly are living in the end times.

You’re as cuddly as a cactus

Pexels markus spiske 1089438 1
Image: Unsplash

One thing retailers can’t currently fight against is systems and scripts that provide stock alerts to users. Getting instant updates on what’s in stock makes it that much easier to grab that elusive piece of tech – in this case, a PS5 – before anyone else can. It’s a huge back and forth battle, and one that constantly has stores on the back foot.

The fight looks to be escalating, too. There is evidence that well-organized groups are about to take a huge portion of the demand. One small group made $1 million dollars in profit over the first two weeks of PS5’s release. How will retailers cope when buying as much stock as possible is planned, prepped, and executed with clinical precision?

As charming as an eel

Playstation 5 preorders on ebay
Image: KnowTechie

While regenerating stock will eventually make the PS5 easy to get hold of, there is obviously a huge amount of demand for Sony’s latest console. It’s only been compounded by 2020’s small pandemic problem. Breaks in the supply chain meant there was nowhere near enough consoles produced to meet the needs of consumers. Scalpers have only been too happy to take advantage of this.

The simple argument of supply and demand also plays a factor. If everybody refused to pay a scalper double the retail price for a unit, then there would be no need for them to exist. There would be no need for grinch bots. Unfortunately, because people have an innate need to have The Next Big Thing, there’s always going to be someone around to pay more than the cost price.

What do you think? Had any luck getting a PS5? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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A gamer since I've been able to hold a controller, I can usually be found with a PlayStation, Xbox or Switch controller in my hand.

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