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Bots Are Depleting Stocks Of The New Playstation And Xbox Consoles



All right. As many of you probably know already, Sony and Microsoft this month released their new consoles, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. If you are a gamer and you've been trying to get your hands on one of these, you've probably been having some trouble.


Because demand is through the roof - and on top of that, the pandemic is affecting typical purchasing habits.

NICOLE CARPENTER: It really has changed the way people are buying the consoles. Since you can't go stand in a line and wait and just kind of hang out to get a console, you have to do it online.

INSKEEP: Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter for Polygon, a gaming news publication.

CARPENTER: That excess number of people shopping online is just making it a true nightmare.

GREENE: A true nightmare because the websites of some of the big retailers like Walmart are crashing - and it's not just because of individual consumers.

CARPENTER: You don't know if you're shopping against actual customers or bots.

INSKEEP: Bots are programs written to search the Web and immediately purchase a console from a reputable retailer. They're depleting online stock in minutes - or even seconds. And resellers are using bots to gather up their own stock, which they can then sell again at a huge markup.

GREENE: But if you are still hoping to buy one of these yourself at market price, there's actually a bot for that, too.

CARPENTER: There is a Twitch stream that is running a bot that's checking stock at retailers. Right now it's just a whole big wall of out-of-stock. But it plays a sound, so you could just keep it running in the background.

GREENE: Now, the downside of this - those kinds of bots can themselves crash retailer websites, making it impossible for you to buy the PS5 you have finally found.

INSKEEP: And there's also the issue of producing enough for demand. The console makers are running short.

CARPENTER: Sony has said that it will have more stock before the end of the year. Microsoft is making more as well, but they're just not here yet.

GREENE: According to Microsoft, there might not be more Xboxes until April. So what is everyone going to do? Well, I mean, there's always Monopoly or maybe that landscape puzzle that's still missing a few pieces, right?

INSKEEP: (Laughter). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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