If you've been attempting to get hold of a PS5 or Xbox Series X, you'll know that task is proving to be practically impossible thanks to an unholy mix of supply issues and scalpers; but UK MP Douglas Chapman has brought forward a bill to criminalise console scalping.
We first got wind of Chapman's proposed legislation last month, following the rampant use of bots post-console launch that let scalpers nab thousands of PS5 and Xbox Series X systems. The bill has now been formally brought forward, and seeks to ban reselling consoles in a similar way to concert ticket scalping.
Talking to Sky News (opens in new tab), Chapman branded console scalping as "profiteering" and a "total scam", adding:
"We've proposed that a similar legislative process be brought forward to ensure that consumers can purchase gaming consoles and computer components at no more than the manufacturers' recommended price, and that resale of goods purchased by automated bots be made illegal."
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Chapman says it's an issue that Sony and Microsoft should be worried about too, given that the stock being sat on for resale could impact revenue in terms of software sales; if they're not in circulation, they're not being used.
Caroline Dinenage, minister of state for digital and culture, says the issue is being discussed with the trade association for the videogame industry, saying:
"We know that bulk purchasing through automated bots is a concern for some of their members who we understand are currently looking at any further actions they can take to prevent these behaviours and are working with their retailers to improve experiences for customers."
Realistically, the bill is unlikely to pass – which Chapman recognises – but it should hopefully bring enough attention to the problem to set the wheels in motion for legislation further down the line.
Scalper networks have trotted out excuses in an a bid to justify their actions, citing commonplace reasons that are affecting all of us during the pandemic, but the community at large isn't being hoodwinked, and social media is full of accounts of people messing with scalpers by arranging meetups to collect a new PS5 and not showing up, or bidding online and not following through with purchases.
With PS5 and Xbox Series X stock issues potentially stretching to the end of the year (via Bloomberg (opens in new tab)) it's not something that's going to go away anytime soon, and consumers are going to want to see something done about it.