Sony outwits PS5 scalpers with this clever trick

Who needs cutting edge tech when this low-tech anti-scalper system works so well?

PS5 Sony PlayStation 5
(Image credit: Future)

If you're spending your days on our PS5 restock tracker I think it's safe to say that you share my feelings about scalpers: thanks to their greed it's been exceptionally difficult for anybody to get a PS5 at all, let alone for a decent price. So it's good to see Sony in Japan use a very low-tech but effective system for making PS5s scalper-proof.

According to Yahoo Japan, Sony is asking retailers to break open the PS5 box's seal when customers buy it. That means they can no longer sell it as brand new, which reduces the profitability of scalping. That sound you hear is me playing a very small violin to soundtrack the sobs of unhappy scalpers.

How a simple seal can stop scalpers

According to the article, the process goes like this: the retailers' PS5s come with a special seal, and when you buy your PS5 they cut the seal open to make it clear that your console has now been sold and is no longer new and unopened. If they don't take the seal off and you try to do it yourself, it'll make an almighty mess that makes the sold status even clearer.

It's a clever idea, but it can only do so much. If retailers aren't checking for multiple orders from the same people, or verifying that customers are who they say they are, then the consoles will still be scalped; they just won't be scalped for quite so much profit. And if online orders aren't handled in the same way then the scalpers will just buy those ones instead, potentially making it even more difficult to get a PS5 online for everybody else. But anything that makes scalpers' lives even a little bit more difficult has got to be worthwhile.

Personally I reckon Sony should infiltrate the scalpers' socials, gain their trust and alert them to a huge stock drop that Sony will arrange solely for the scalpers – and when the deliveries arrive and the scalpers open the external packaging, they'll discover that instead of PS5s Sony has sent them boxes full of angry bees instead. I've sent several emails to Sony about this but they've yet to reply.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).