Scalpers: The scum of the Earth


A quick look at the Best Buy website shows that all the decent graphics cards are sold out.

Ben Radspinner, Photography Editor

In the gaming community, there is something called the “Console Wars.” This is a war between Playstation, Xbox, and PC users on which gaming platform is superior. This has been going on since the unveiling of the Xbox 360 (2005) and even earlier. Even as the war rages on, there is one thing that brings all gamers together: the collective hatred towards the act of scalping.
Scalping is a trading style where someone will buy a product and sell it for a slightly higher price to make a profit. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of scalping. The problems arise whenever it is used on a high demand product, such as new tech items that everyone wants. Most releases of popular consoles suffer from some scalping here and there, but 2020 was a perfect storm for the gaming community to be swarmed by these leeches of the tech world.
The first of many problems was the COVID-19 pandemic. This affected many things including the production process of the new consoles and graphics cards being sold this year. But this wasn’t even one of the larger problems. Gaming has skyrocketed in popularity recently, allowing friends and family to connect during the pandemic. Though this is a good thing, the increase in popularity put a target on the back of the gaming industry for scalpers. This is mostly what has caused the Xbox Series X and the Playstation 5 to stay out of stock for months.
The other large problem right now is the spike in the value of cryptocurrency. One of the defining aspects of cryptocurrency is that it can be “mined” using graphics cards. The process to mine cryptocurrency is very complicated, but it takes a lot of processing power to do and can yield cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency miners took interest in the new 30 series graphics cards that Nvidia was producing, and that, combined with the new interest in gaming because of the pandemic, created a demand for graphics cards that Nvidia had never seen before. Day one of the 30 series launch saw more traffic on their website than Black Friday. Many of those visits were from scalpers. On the launch days of the Xbox Series X, the PS5 and the new 3080 Graphics Cards, all were sold out in minutes, and each restock was bought out in the blink of an eye.
I spent a couple of weeks looking into PS5 and Series X availability, and not one store ever had any of the consoles anytime that I checked. Though you couldn’t find these items at the store, bidding sites like StockX and eBay were being flooded with overpriced graphics cards and consoles, with some PS5s costing over a thousand dollars. If you want to get a console or a graphics card, you would have to track multiple websites for possible restock times and have everything ready to be the first of tens of thousands of people trying to get 10 consoles from a store.
As frustrating as the situation is, the sad part is that many of these people who are reselling popular tech items also love these items but are holding them back from other people just to make a couple of hundred bucks. It’s greedy, selfish, and it hurts their own community. Personally, I have given up on a PS5 or a Series X, but it sucks that I should even have to go through such lengths to buy a home console. If you’re going to try to buy one, good luck. It’ll most likely take you months just to even get the chance.