UK gov’t set to criminalize scalping of PlayStation 5 consoles and other videogame hardware

Scalping has been an issue that has plagued the gaming community in recent months. Whether it be PlayStation 5 consoles or new video cards from Nvidia and AMD, scalpers have taken advantage of limited stocks to make money from gamers desperate to get new hardware.

But that may change soon, at least in the UK. The UK parliament has taken measures to criminalize scalping with a bill titled the Gaming Hardware (Automated Purchase and Resale) Bill 2019-21.

Submitted by Member of Parliament Douglas Chapman, the bill tackles the rising incidences of scalping in the UK. These have driven up prices of certain goods while further limiting the already limited supply of these, forcing buyers to pay well above retail price just to purchase these goods.

According to Chapman, the bill—which is similar to the existing Ticket touting law—aims to place safeguards to ensure that consumers are able to purchase both gaming consoles and computer components at prices not exceeding the SRP set by manufacturers. In addition, it also looks to make purchases made by bots illegal.

“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 behaviors and are working with their retailers to improve experiences for customers,” Chapman explained in an interview with Sky News.

Chapman explained that the issue of scalping first came to him through complaints by his constituents about unable to purchase the latest gaming consoles and hardware prior to Christmas last year. Upon his office’s investigation, he found out that the practice of scalping has run rampant, thanks to the use of “automated bots” to purchase these products in bulks and was sold at highly inflated prices.

The impact of scalping just from last year alone has been alarming, to say the least. According to a report by Gamerant, scalpers were able to amass a total of $58 million just from reselling both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles during their launch. Reselling PS5 consoles brought in an estimated $34 million in sales while the Xbox Series X and S contributed the remaining $23 million in sales. (Read: PlayStation 5 sales numbers show its the most-coveted PlayStation console to date)

In terms of profit scalpers for both next-gen consoles, the report details an estimated $29 million “profitable earnings” as a result of gaming console scalping.

For computer hardware, the reselling of Nvidia’s RTX 30 Series GPUs and AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs also paints a similar story. Scalpers were able to earn $39 million in pure profit from reselling in-demand hardware in reselling sites at an extortionate rate.

The demand for both gaming consoles and PC hardware demand has skyrocketed over the previous year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a surge of demand in hardware needed for cryptocurrency. In addition, supplies also look to remain limited in 2021—something which scalpers may be looking to take advantage of.

While Chapman has acknowledged that the bill he passed may unlikely push through, the bill is a head start in acknowledging and perhaps eventually solving a perennial problem that has affected both gamers and the industry at large.

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Franz Co

managing editor | addicted to RGB | plays too many fighting games

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