PS5 Scalpers on Notice in the UK; Sony Prepares for China Release

Since its debut back in November 2020, demand for the PlayStation 5 has far outpaced supply. Sony has reportedly sold 4.5 million PS5 units as of last week. That’s a far cry from the 114+ million PS4 units sold since its launch in November 2013. Sony’s got a long runway ahead of them for the life of the PS5, but gamers everywhere will have to have patience while production continues to churn out the new next-gen console.

Or you can always buy one from a scalper.

That’s the conundrum that gamers, retailers, and entrepreneurs alike face when it comes to the age-old supply-and-demand problem with the PS5. It’s bad enough that there are too few PS5s to go around to everyone who wants one, but that’s made much worse by bots which purchase available systems all across the internet as soon as they’re available. If use of those bots were intended simply to increase the opportunity to nab a system for a player or family, that’s one thing, but more often than not, they’re used to provide a reseller with a fresh supply in order to offer those same systems at a much-inflated price, ie, a scalper. While this issue has been plaguing PS5 fans the world over, retailers and legislators in the UK are supposedly putting scalpers on notice.

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Image via Sony

Just a couple weeks back, a known scalping group took to Discord in order to exploit a loophole allowing them to snatch restocked PS5s a full day before they were made available to the law-abiding public in the UK. A week before that, another bot was able to secure thousands of PS5s during a restock of retailer GAME, which assured its customers they’d be confirming their own “one PS5 per customer” rule. And that came a few weeks after another few thousand consoles were snagged during pre-orders and launch-day sales by one bot group. The so-called “sneaker culture” model, where it applies to scalpers, is a great point of comparison for the ongoing issue with next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. UK law-makers have been targeting scalpers since at least mid-December, with little to no action other than tough words.

Retailers are sticking with their “We’re monitoring orders” line as bots continue to buy PS5s en masse. (I mean, the stores are selling them and don’t really seem to care much how they’re being sold or to whom). UK politicians are moving at a somewhat glacial pace towards addressing the issue, as IGN reports:

“Given that experts in the cyber industry now predict the issue of scalping to grow across other important goods and services this year, we are looking at presenting a Bill in Parliament so that we can further explore legislative options to protect consumers from this unfair practice.”

Douglas Chapman MP, who is leading the charge against scalpers and gave the above statement, also said, “The issue of scalping first came up with constituents contacting me to explain their frustration about being unable to get hold of certain games consoles or computer components pre-Christmas. On investigation we uncovered more details of the unscrupulous practice of ‘scalping’ by automated bots to bulk buy these goods and sell them on at inflated prices.” This latest push to maybe sorta look at possibly presenting something tangible is likely too little, too late. Sony is prepping for a Q2 launch of the PS5 in China, and the bots are ready and waiting.

China, who missed out on the initial launch (and reacted by jacking up the import price of the PS5 from U.S. and Japan by four times the amount), will soon get a proper release, as Eurogamer reports. Senior Analyst at Niko Partners Daniel Ahmad, who covers China and Asia’s gaming market, tweeted the following video of SIE Shanghai President Tatsuo Eguchi and Vice Chairman Soeda Takehito, who announced the Q2 2021 PS5 release date news over Chinese social media:

You can expect Microsoft’s Xbox Series X|S to launch in China around the same time since both gaming companies received their certifications just this past December. However, while the consoles may be approved, software needs to be certified on an individual basis; expect some region-locked titles and online services. And with a new market opening up and no scalper protections in place, expect the bots to win this round, too.

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