PS5 and Xbox Series X Scalpers Draw the Attention of UK Lawmakers

Nathan Birch
PS5 Xbox Series X Microsoft DualSense

Acquiring a PS5 or Xbox Series X or S has been a frustrating and futile process for many gamers this year, with most retailers’ stock disappearing within minutes of being put on sale. This is partly just due to high demand, but organized scalpers, who buy large numbers of next-gen consoles to sell at a profit on eBay and other similar sites, are a large part of the problem. Scalpers use bots which can alert them the second retailers put next-gen consoles on sale, giving them an edge over most consumers. One scalper group has boasted about acquiring over 5000 next-gen consoles in the UK alone.

Well, apparently the UK reselling situation has gotten so bad, it’s attracted the attention of the country’s lawmakers. According to the folks at Video Game Chronicle, a group of British MPs have tabled an “Early Day Motion,” in an attempt to drum up proposals that would prohibit the “resale of gaming consoles and computer components at prices greatly above [MSRP].” Early Day Motions are meant to spark debate, possibly leading to legislation down the line, so no actual laws have been passed yet. That said, the motion has already been signed by 15 MPs. Here’s what the motion is specifically targeting…

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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.

It will be interesting to see how far this goes. Scalping is a tricky business – people ought to have the right to resell things they buy, and most scalper groups aren’t monoliths, but rather collections of individuals, many of whom may only be selling a small number of consoles for a modest profit. That said, there’s no denying the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S has been a mess, with bots creating an uneven playing field and too many next-gen-hungry buyers being taken advantage of. Finding the right balance won’t be easy.

What are your thoughts on all this? What would be the best solution to the issues we’ve seen with the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S launches?

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