PS5, XBox Series…: these bots are killing the game

Stock shortages persist, and buying a console or graphics card often becomes a hurdle. But what is behind the inventory grab by bots? Newspaper.

Sony’s PlayStation 5, Microsoft’s Xbox Series, Nvidia’s graphics cards… how difficult it has been to get these precious high-tech products in recent months. In a detailed investigation published Wednesday, May 25, 2022, The Verge took an interest in the world of bots and swipes that are severely disrupting the market for these products that have become a rarity. Starting with the observation that it is always difficult to buy certain coveted goods and that they are often monopolized by a few buyers equipped with bots, the online magazine investigated to find out what was behind the scenes of these game-killing tools.

Covid, accelerator

In an interview with The Verge, Fuat, the creator of the bot named Dakoza, talks about his personal experience and explains the path that led him to get into this kind of business. Knowing the world of sneakers well, he once found himself in line to purchase a pair of limited-edition sneakers (doomed to rise in price) for a friend who offered him a commission for a service rendered.

An anecdotal story that, combined with boredom caused by imprisonment due to COVID-19, ultimately pushed the creator to get more familiar with the world of bots. With a few simple lines of code, his first trading bot was born and an opportunity popped up in his head.

Resellers are not the real problem

To use a shopper bot, the reseller must pay a certain initial amount ($300 in the case of Dakoza) and then pay a monthly fee ($50 per month). This makes the reseller a mere intermediary in the market, the root of the problem is in the service.

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Far from being a skilled and selfish computer scientist, many Dakoza customers use bots as a way to breathe and live a little better. Fuat said he received several messages from people who were able to finance their wedding, additional services, or simply prepare a beautiful wardrobe for an unborn newborn thanks to their decision.

The Verge also asked how this type of bot works. Obviously, the creators tried not to go into details, but one of them was kind enough to summarize the operation in general terms.

When you purchase an item through a website, your computer sends requests to the site’s servers. These requests are instructions on what the server should do and send you information.

To save time, the bot sends requests directly, simulating human actions, overcoming the latency of rendering in a browser. Add to cart, checkout, contact information, payment… everything is sent in a package to save a few seconds on the human shopper and therefore win the bid.

Scarcity, benevolence

You should know that it is almost impossible to buy one of these bots directly today. A potential customer must go through an endless queue before they can purchase a license. Although it may seem strange at first glance (automatically selling bots will bring in a lot of profit in a short time), this is a well-thought-out business strategy.

A service like Dakoza is not just a piece of code. The company voluntarily reduces the number of customers in order to offer a quality local service. Many human moderators are also involved in the process to notify the company’s clients of the ideal time to launch the bot.

If the distribution of this program were completely open, many people would pay several hundred dollars for a program that, after all, would not have much more chance of making a purchase than the average Internet user. Restricting access allows you to offer sustainable services and perpetuate the company. It should be noted that other sectors are using the same approach, such as the Nielsen Consumer Panel, which offers very good rewards but can take up to a year to enter.

Another element to consider in the current situation is the production lines. Resale bots have been around for a long time, but the health crisis has triggered (or accelerated) components, resulting in a lack of supply compared to demand. This is what allows such a program to be so profitable at the moment and make a hundred dollars in profit on a machine like the PS5. But what will happen to all these bots if the supply suddenly becomes plentiful again?

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