Walmart says it blocked more than 20 million bots from buying a PlayStation 5 in just 30 minutes as it calls on other retailers to help stamp out the problem.
The US’ largest retailer has called on “others across the retail industry” to join it and force the hand of lawmakers to make the use of bots illegal on retail sites “so customers have equal access to the products they want”.
Jerry Geisler, Walmart’s chief information security officer, stated in a blog post published earlier this week that Walmart had been able to thwart millions of scalpers from buying up the scarce stock.
On November 25, when Walmart released online restock, Walmart reportedly blocked 20 million bots in the first 30 minutes they went on sale.
“Bot scripts are constantly evolving and being re-written, so we’ve built, deployed, and are continuously updating our own bot-detection tools, allowing us to successfully block the vast majority of bots we see”, Geisler said.
“As an additional step, we also audit and quickly cancel any orders confirmed to be purchased by bots that may have slipped through. As a result, the vast majority of our next-gen consoles have been purchased by legitimate customers, which is exactly what we want.”
Despite Walmart seemingly making some headway against bots and scalper groups, which have plagued the PS5 since it was released in early November, they are reportedly having a serious impact on sales.
According to a report from Bloomberg, this is proven by what’s known as the “tie ratio”, which measures the number of games sold per console.
As consoles are sold at a loss, but games are relatively lucrative, a healthy ratio is one game per every console sold.
However figures show just one game is being sold for every three consoles, suggesting that scalper groups are continuing to buy up and hoard stock before selling it on at an exorbitant prices, often more than twice the retail price.
One estimate suggest that resellers have made roughly $35 million from PS5 consoles, and a further $24 million from Xbox Series consoles, released the same month.