Episode 399: Yes, Video Game Console Scalpers Deserve the Bad Press


I know a good lot of you reading this are gamers and I know a fair percentage are eager to get their hands on Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. I can relate to the feeling, however, I have been holding off on even attempting to get one for a couple of reasons. For one, I’m waiting for that one specific game to make me scream “That’s the game I have to play!” and it’s only exclusive on one or the other console. I’m looking at both sides of the aisle because, even though I’m a self-proclaimed PlayStation fangirl, there’s nothing wrong with exploring other options, specifically from the Xbox side of things, right?

There is another factor, though, that I have been considering. That would be the fact it’s maddeningly difficult to even buy one at a reasonable price. Things have been getting better but the scarcity of both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X has driven up the price to infuriating levels. I do believe Sony and Microsoft are trying their best to keep up with the demand. It’s just that there are outside forces who are limiting the supply. We all know them as scalpers, the people who swoop in to gobble up as much of the inventory as possible in the hopes to resell them at a much higher markup price.

Now, I actually don’t have a huge problem with scalpers; unpopular opinion, I know. I find them annoying as they’re being opportunistic pricks who exploit the public’s lust for the shiny new thing on the market. They’re basically straddling the line between what’s legal and illegal in my opinion. It’s still totally unethical in the grand sense but it’s still legal. However, I always thought scalpers knew what they were doing was scummy and predatory. They knew they weren’t “the good guys” as they were taking advantage of a broken system. At least they would have guts to admit what they were doing was wrong.

Apparently not.

Recently, Forbes did an interview with the leader of a scalper group and, guess what? The scalper wasn’t happy with their bad image! They didn’t like how people were perceiving them to be people who are making it so difficult for the general public to get what they want! This really, really, really got me upset! Like I said, I would, at the very least, give them some respect if they admit, at least to themselves, what they were doing was scummy. Instead, the scalper states, of all things, what they are is a “valuable industry” and they are just doing what other business retailer does. I call bull on this!

The example given by the scalper, as reported by the Forbes article, was basically they were acting like Tesco, a huge supermarket chain in the UK. Basically, the example he gave was how Tesco, or any supermarket and retailer for that matter, gets their stock. Tesco or the retailer generally act like a middleman since they go to the supplier, buys some of the stock from them at a lower price and then put up the same product for sale at a higher price. We don’t really question the markup because, well, most of us don’t really know who to contact! Do you know any dairy farmers where you can get milk from them directly? I didn’t think so!

There’s also the matter of convenience when it comes to going to a place like Tesco, any supermarket or any place which has stuff for sale. Even if you did know a dairy farmer and you could get milk from them directly, there’s the matter of actually going to that location just to get the milk! Even if you do get up and drive yourself to wherever the milk is, what if you need to get other stuff like eggs, tea and meat? Are you going to go roaming around for miles and miles to look for those other essentials when you can simply drive yourself to a supermarket to get them? I mean, you can but I’m not sure if it’ll be worth the effort.

Let’s get back to what they scalper was saying, however. His argument hinges on the analogy that he and other scalpers are just like any retail chain as they act like the middleman. The bridge between the supplier and the customer, if you will. Well, that’s one heck of a broken analogy because they are not acting like the middleman in even their own argument! They’re not the ones going to Sony or Microsoft and ordering a heaping load of PlayStation 5s and Xbox Series Xs! No, what they are doing is going to online stores like Gamestop, Amazon, Walmart and more, buying up most of the stock and then jacking up the price in the hopes of selling them to the people who want to get one of the new systems!

In fact, using their own “Tesco sells marked up milk” analogy, it would be like them going to Tesco, buying up all the milk off the shelves and then setting up shop outside the store to sell them at twice the price because they’re the only people who are now selling milk! This doesn’t mean they become the middleman. Instead, they put up another layer between the consumer and the actual middleman! How is that supposed to be convenient?

The scalper also mentions they’re providing a service because PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are very hard to come by? Well, why do you think that is, you horrible hoarder of consoles? It’s because you’re the ones causing the shortages! You’re the guys who are going to all the online stores and using programmed bots to get all the stock before others can even get a chance to buy just one of them! When only you have all the stock, then of course there’s there’s going to be a “limited quantity” out there for purchase! When you control the rarity of something which should be more common, that doesn’t make you a “middleman” of any kind; that makes you a cartel. Like a diamond cartel, actually.

The scammer even tries to paint himself in a new, benevolent light by stating they donate to charity using their ill-gained profits. Ooh, that’s supposed to make you a bunch of good guys now? That’s supposed to make me applaud you for creating an artificial shortage and costing people more than what they should pay if they got them from retailers, the actual middlemen in the entire thing? Get out of here! By the way, the scammer never really gave the details to which charity they donated to for Forbes to confirm. Isn’t that convenient?

I’m sorry but I’m getting madder and madder by writing this post because, if scammers think it’s unfair we think poorly of them, they are blind to their own hypocrisy because they don’t see they’re being utterly unfair to others who are not willing to use bots to purchase boatloads of PlayStation 5s and Xbox Series X, causing an artificial shortage when there should be more than enough video game consoles to go around and jacking up the price because they control the amount of product that’s out there.

So, to all the video game scalpers out there, yeah. You deserve as much bad press that’s out there. Deal with it.


What’s your take on scalpers thinking it’s unfair regarding all of the bad press that’s on them? Let me know in the comments section below!

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