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It was nearly impossible to buy the PlayStation 5 at launch thanks in part to resellers using the same type of bots that snatch up Yeezy drops

DeepEnigma

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After getting to checkout, PlayStation 5 buyers found out the device had already sold out. Walmart

After months of anticipation, Sony's PlayStation 5 finally launched on Thursday — but it seemed nearly impossible to buy the console through any online retailer.

Because of the pandemic, Sony decided not to go the traditional console-launch route and didn't sell the new game console in retail stores at launch. Instead of massive launch lines and stories of excited fans camping out overnight in front of GameStop, the main way to get a PS5 on November 12 was to have preordered the console months ago through one of several retailers.

Beyond that, PlayStation 5 buyers had one recourse on launch day: the digital storefronts of major retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. And at 12 p.m. ET on November 12, people got a look at how well that system worked.

The flood of customers was so voluminous that it caused the entire Walmart web store to crash, and users were greeted with a message explaining that the store was overloaded by too many shoppers at one time.

"Last week, when we released the item for sale on Walmart.com, we did see massive traffic, which caused some customers to experience intermittent slowness for a few minutes," a Walmart representative told Business Insider. "We quickly caught up with the volume and are currently restocking the item for additional release of inventory throughout the holidays."

So how is it that one of America's largest retailers was unable to handle a flood of digital customers?

Some of those customers weren't customers at all but software designed to circumvent wait times, jump queues, and rapidly purchase high-demand items: "bots" that are able to buy items faster than any human being could.

While you were filling out your customer data or waiting for the checkout to load, bots were zipping past and buying up PlayStation 5 consoles that are largely turned around for resale.

Social-media and resale websites are rife with resellers who say they used bots to nab dozens of PlayStation 5 consoles on launch day:




"My bot came through," one reseller said on Twitter. "Let me know who needs a #PS5 #Playstation5 If you haven't secured dm me selling both digital and disc."

That same reseller was selling the $500 PlayStation 5 model for $1,100 and the $400 model for $900.

Those prices aren't wildly outside the spectrum of market value: The sneaker-resale website StockX has the $500 model selling for just shy of $900 as of Monday morning.

If you're at all familiar with the world of sneaker resale, you're likely already familiar with the concept of bots. Broadly speaking, bot software is intended to replicate the actions of normal online customers but significantly faster. Retailers like Walmart employ their own software intended to thwart reseller software, but bots exist in an ever-evolving marketplace and innovation is rampant. As such, retailers are constantly working to keep up with the latest in bot software.

Effective bots are in such high demand that they've created their own microeconomy, with resellers fighting for access to the best ones.

And it's these bots that were able to rapidly scoop up at least part of the limited supply of PlayStation 5 consoles available last week.

Meanwhile, for the many people who were unable to buy a PlayStation 5 last week, it's unclear when you'll be able to get one.

Sony is selling the new game console directly to consumers, but the resupply drops are sporadic. GameStop said it would have consoles available for sale in stores on Black Friday, November 27, but the only guaranteed quantity is limited to two consoles per store. Walmart is also offering sales on Black Friday, but the console will be available only through the web store once again. Best Buy, meanwhile, has said it won't have any additional PlayStation 5 consoles for sale throughout the rest of the holiday season.

Sony representatives did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment.


> Captcha me if old.
 

wipeout364

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Jun 13, 2004
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I didn’t put a lot of effort in unlike the Xbox but I did check all the major retailers in the early morning on launch day but there was literally nothing available. It’s pretty sad but it’s the way it is for so much nowadays that is available in limited quantities.
On the surface it seems like it should be easy to stop but history has proven it’s not just look at any big sporting event or concert (pre covid of course).
 

Slayer-33

Liverpool-2
Aug 18, 2006
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And the problem is that the scalping scumbags will keep doing this through the holidays/dec... It sucks ass. I want to get through my backlog of games on a series x.
 
D

Deleted member 801069

Unconfirmed Member
I was able to preorder 3 xsx without much difficulty. I heard PS5 was a nightmare.
 

DeepEnigma

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Dec 3, 2013
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I didn’t put a lot of effort in unlike the Xbox but I did check all the major retailers in the early morning on launch day but there was literally nothing available. It’s pretty sad but it’s the way it is for so much nowadays that is available in limited quantities.
On the surface it seems like it should be easy to stop but history has proven it’s not just look at any big sporting event or concert (pre covid of course).

They did not even have any bot protections at all to at least help mitigate the speed and give people a chance.

Sporting events at least put the tickets in your box, with captcha, and timers to purchase. How Walmart and Best Buy had it, was zero protections, where the scripted bots could rip the items RIGHT OUT OF YOUR CART.

A simple captcha at checkout would have given people a much greater fighting chance, as well as not allowing items to be "sold out" while your entering payment and hitting 'submit order'.
 

johntown

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Dec 27, 2010
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I was one of the lucky ones that got one from Walmart too. I even had to bolt from my basement to my room upstairs for my CV2 code on my card and still managed to get one.
 
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YeulEmeralda

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Aug 8, 2020
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"Sony decided not to go the traditional console-launch route"

It was decided for them by COVID-19.
Besides the people who camp out are scalpers too.

Reserve your months in advance if you want one on launch day.
 

VincentMatts

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Aug 21, 2014
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I cancelled my ps5 from BB cause buying both XSX and it was too expensive, but i should have kept it and sold it at cost to someone that wanted one. Oh well.
 
F

Foamy

Unconfirmed Member
They really need to put laws into place against this kind of thing.
 
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Spokker

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May 31, 2011
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Best Buy, meanwhile, has said it won't have any additional PlayStation 5 consoles for sale throughout the rest of the holiday season.

Yeah, I'm just waiting for my Best Buy order to be cancelled. And even if it isn't, our county just got more COVID restrictions so who knows if the store will even be allowed to open.
 
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RedVIper

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A simple captcha at checkout would have given people a much greater fighting chance, as well as not allowing items to be "sold out" while your entering payment and hitting 'submit order'.

Captchas do jack shit against bots.
 

Spokker

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It was decided for them by COVID-19.
You can go to Target right now and stand in line with randoms to buy Hot Cheetos and an enema kit, but not a PS5. What's the difference? Stand on those little stickers on the floor like a good boy and wear a mask. It's safe. If you want to feel even safer, kneel against police brutality and you're practically immune.
 
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diffusionx

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Feb 25, 2006
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The people buying from scalpers are just as much to blame.

Eventually those people will get their consoles, and then the scalping will be done.

Already on eBay I see prices have gone down to about $800-$900 for XSX and $900-$1000 for PS5, down a bit from even last week, and lots of BIN at much higher going unsold, so we will see.
 

nowhat

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Sep 18, 2017
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I (here in .fi) put my preorder in at my retailer pretty much immediately after the official reveal. At the time, the page said it was available. Shortly after, it said that the initial batch of preorders had been filled. Shortly thereafter, I get an email saying I didn't make it into the first batch (FU retailer!).

So, 9AM next Thursday I'll have three sites to refresh. They all will have a limited number available online. Beyond that, it'll be "early December", but in truth, sometime next year. And I'm already willing to concede that fact - when I got my PS4 in March 2014 here (as I didn't preorder), I was just lucky and managed to score one off a generic department store that happened to get a couple in stock by accident. I have a hard time believing it would be any easier this time around.
 

Ooccoo

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The problem is also because people allow resellers to exist. What I mean is people are impatient and do pay up. You won't die if you can't get your hands on a PS5 this Holiday. Same with the latest shoes. When you buy your console 1.5 the price or more, you're allowing this behaviour to exist. I understand wanting to have the latest bling, but still.
 
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Tmack

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Reallistic speaking, i dont think scalpers got a large share of avaible supply here.

Probably 90%+ of sales end up in legit buyers hands.
 
Jul 2, 2014
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I got 2.

It was difficult.. but.. I mean.. just pay attention to the timing of drops.

I got 3. In the UK here.

I really didn't think it was difficult.

Shopto - let you pre-preorder and reserved you a preorder for like a month at the front of the queue.

Game - put them up right after the official reveal and i snapped one

Amazon - just tried at 9am when they said they were up. My friend didnt check until 9:25 and still managed a preorder which has been confirmed for day 1.

So it really doesn't seem bad to me as long as people remotely pay attention in the UK.
 
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Warnen

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Sep 24, 2005
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Got thru on walmart a few times that day but it was gone by the time I get my info in during check out. Would rather have the X since realy only playing destiny (free on game pass) but I would have taken a ps5
 
Aug 28, 2019
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Reallistic speaking, i dont think scalpers got a large share of avaible supply here.

Probably 90%+ of sales end up in legit buyers hands.
Yeah there's really no sense in claiming otherwise.

Even 90% is probably low.

Scalpers suck and do make things more difficult.. but they didn't scoop up most of the units. Otherwise we'd literally be seeing hundreds of thousands of EBay listings..

Scalpers do help crash sites more than real demand does though as their tools tend to be really hard on web servers compared to an individual user, even an F5 happy user.
 
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mckmas8808

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May 24, 2005
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"Sony decided not to go the traditional console-launch route"

It was decided for them by COVID-19.
Besides the people who camp out are scalpers too.

Reserve your months in advance if you want one on launch day.

Why is this article seemingly blaming Sony for some of this?
 

scalman

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Feb 6, 2019
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probably wont be available this year here at all. its that bad. they have series S though, but series X same no more.
 
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Cravis

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I don’t see how they haven’t implemented really strict captchas to combat these bots. I mean I don’t mind clicking on some pictures of traffic lights or cross walks if it freeze those bots in place. Don’t even let you add it to your cart without solving the captcha.
 
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WalterSobchak

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I can't begrudge someone who buys maybe one or 2 extra to offset their own costs , but the people selling stacks and stacks of both units can eat a dick. Really wish there was a way to keep these bot assholes from scooping up 75% of available stock.
 

Quantum253

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I'd like to see a break down of how "bots" work to bypass the captia etc. I have a good idea of scripting and auto purchasing/checkout, but want to see it all put together and in action. Also, as a counter-balance, I thought there were also bots that destroyed scalper's Ebay auctions with auto bidding with ridiculous bid numbers. Similar to what happened with the RTX3000 card scalpers ($30,000-$50,000 for a card).?
 

GaviotaGrande

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You can buy Yeezys from China for less than 40 EUR, so it's not a problem. PS5 on the other hand...