PlayStation 5 scalpers: UK government is pushing for action to stop next-gen issue

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The recent release of the next-generation of the world’s favourite games consoles has precipitated a global scramble of customers to get their hands on a crisp, exciting 2021 gaming experience.

The launch of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X were timely, not just because they were available for the Christmas market, but since everyone is stuck inside with little else to do with their free time.

Much like its predecessor the PS4, the PS5 has dominated its Microsoft rival in sales, almost doubling its figures since its release. Sony are attempting to keep pace with its new console’s success in terms of manufacturing and distribution, but this is no easy task at the best of times, never mind during a global pandemic.

This becomes especially difficult when you add in the curveball of increasingly common initiatives such as ‘scalping’.

Scalping has existed for decades in one form or another, but has become rife in successful, saturated markets such as that of games consoles, which can be tough to get hold of even outside of festive periods.

‘Next-gen scalpers’, such as Carnage, a UK/EU market centred bot that buys “toys and miscellaneous collectables” in bulk as soon as they become available online, have been hugely disruptive to the fair distribution of products across markets such as Europe.

On social media, Carnage boasted about its purchase of no less than 2,000 PS5 consoles during GAME’s limited January re-stock. They will be sold on for a profit by the third-party outfit that operates the bot.

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It is clear that scalpers are a serious issue that needs addressing from the top, that is to say, by the government.

Promisingly, the first step in tackling the issue has been made, with Scottish National Party MP Douglas Chapman recently outlining his plan to submit a bill to parliament.

“It's simply not in the consumer's interests to have lots of stock for in demand, very exciting new products just being bought up en masse,” he told BBC Radio 4. “It doesn't give the ordinary consumer fair access to the market... It's just so unfair for the ordinary person who just wants to play their game or give a gift to their child for Christmas. This situation's just going to get worse and worse.”

While it is great to see an influential figure taking notice of the issue, winning approval of the bill will be no walk in the park.

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Six SNP members put together an Early Day Motion to call for legislation “to prohibit the resale of gaming consoles and computer components at prices greatly above Manufacturer’s Recommended Retail Price,” however, only 30 MPs supported the proposal.

The importance of more politicians taking notice of the problem of scalping has been re-iterated by BBC Radio 4’s Winifred Robinson, who ominously pointed out that games consoles could simply be the tip of the iceberg for scams of this type; it may only be a matter of time before we see essential, everyday items, targeted by Carnage and company

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