There’s been a lot of attention paid to scalpers in the gaming space recently due to the shortages of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles. The unfortunate reality is that some consumers hoping to score a console in time to put it under the Christmas tree this year will have to pay a mark up on their ‘wares.
I interviewed Pruthvi23, a reseller — the moniker he prefers in lieu of “scalper” — about how it’s done and the hype surrounding the latest console releases. You can listen to the full interview above or read excerpts on some of the topics we discussed:
Regarding the “scalper” title…
“Any title that you give people, it’s going to be derogatory in a way, cuz it’s coming from a ‘hate’ point of view. ‘Hey, I didn’t get the item and you’re over here being a grinch’ or whatever the case may be. At the end of the day, I’m a reseller. It is what it is. Resellers have a bad stigma attached to them also — scalpers do too.”
“[…] When I think of scalper, I think of people who purchase sports tickets outside of the venue and then they sell them outside of the venue in the same night.
“The other thing with reselling, I think, is you always have an opportunity to keep the item if you don’t get the amount of money that you want, right? So if I was selling my PlayStation and I have 10 or 11 of them in hand and I was selling them for $1,000 each and you might offer me $800 and I, literally, would be like: ‘No, I’m good.’ And you could offer me $800 two days later and I still say: ‘No…I know I can get $1,000.’ When it comes to scalping — for example — sports tickets the price goes down the closer you get to the event, to the tip-off.”
On how effective bots are at getting the item for a reseller:
“Depends on the bot, depends on the proxies you have — it depends on a lot of things. The specific bot that we’re talking about for Walmart that I have, I can run about 500 slots.
“[…] Obviously, I’m not gonna get all 500. For example, on that last drop that we had on PlayStations, they came out like four times in a day. The first morning drop, I think we ran 16 profiles and we got 18 PlayStations. And then the second drop, when we found out that they were hot, we ran about 160ish profiles and we got 40 PlayStations.”
The amount of profit that can be made:
“Raw profit — besides the cost of the bot, monthly fees, yearly fees, the price of the server, the price of the proxies, etc., etc. — I’m not gonna include that because that all varies, but PlayStations were going for $500 and we’re selling them for about $1,000 to $1,200. I even have the digital selling for $1,100 right now.”
“Doubling profit, easily, but — again — that’s not with everything, right? With Xbox, Xboxes are only going for $750. […] I don’t even sell Xboxes. PlayStations are flying right now so it’s good. There is no reason to undersell your price…if you want a $1,000, trust me, you’ll find a buyer that’s going to pay $1,000.”
Does Pruthvi23 not feel feel like The Grinch?
“In a way, yeah, honestly. I get where they’re coming from. I was also a kid at one point…I also missed out on things that I wanted on Christmas, and reselling obviously wasn’t big when we were at that age. And now it is. You just need to adapt to the time — that’s my opinion and I’m speaking from a reseller point of view.”
“Let’s say, you would love to drive a Ferrari, right? Ok, so it’s either you make enough money to drive the Ferrari or…you keep wanting it.”
“[…] I tell all my friends: ‘Just wait.’ It’s a video game, they’re going to come out, more and more. Me, personally, I had 11 PlayStation 5s in hand. PlayStation 5s — in hand. And I’m playing a PlayStation 4. Why? Because, I’d rather make the money, because I know PS5 is gonna come out again and again and again and I’ll get it whenever it’s readily available.”
On when consumers should be able to expect to pay retail prices for consoles:
“Honestly, based on trends that I’ve known, probably not until after Christmas because everyone’s gonna pay until Christmas. Like I said earlier, you’re always gonna find someone to pay your price if you wait.”
“[…] Right now, its more like: ‘Hey, I need to get it for so-and-so for Christmas. Let me go on eBay and buy it.’ Ok, well, when you go on eBay everyone’s gonna know the last PlayStation sold was $1,300 — so that’s the new price. […] I think after Christmas, it’ll stop.”
Is there any way to stop scalpers/resellers?
“There’s, honestly, no way to cut us off, to be honest. There’s literally no way. For example, a couple weeks ago, Walmart dropped — whenever we cooked — we did well. We got […], you know, like 60 PS5s that day and then there’s another release three or four days later and we only got 1 out of 20. But then, the next release, we were already updated, ready to go — we already knew what they changed — and we were ready to go for the next drop. And, I think, bots are always going to evolve. We can do it instantly. We see one thing that you changed and we’re there.”
I meekly offered up the possibility of a direct email for consumers:
“That would be good if you gave everyone a unique key, right? For example, lets say they sent everyone with a PlayStation ID, like a PSN: ‘Hey, use this link to purchase your PlayStation at 9pm,’ right? So then, someone can push that link out, put it into a bot and we can purchase as many as we want. But, unless they made it uniquely to someone with that specific account…so, whatever your email is has to be signed in to buy that. I can’t use your unique key on my email to buy that.”
“That’s the only way, but that’s also inefficient and another thing is….one thing that people don’t understand: all of these things from Sony, to Nike, or Supreme, or whatever. All of their products sell because of the hype, right? They don’t care about the money that so-and-so spends to buy something from a reseller like me. They don’t care. They care about their money that they’re making, $500 per console, per person. They don’t care who gets it, they just care that they made it.”
Does Sony and Microsoft even care that their consoles are re-sold?
“The hype is what sells the product. Let’s just compare PlayStation and Xbox. When the PlayStation comes out…let’s say, it comes out at 9 o’clock, it’s literally sold out by 9 o’clock and 30 seconds. The Xbox comes out and Xboxes gets out at 9:00 and it sells out at 9:02 or whatever it is. But, at the end of the day, the hype is higher on the PlayStation and it sells out. That’s what Sony wants. They don’t care about what resellers are making or what other people are paying resellers. End of the day, if they have 1 million consoles to sell, they sold them instantly, and the hype is what makes sure that they’re sold.”