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Playstation 5s sell out within moments of becoming available. This still holds true nearly a year and a half after the initial launch back in November 2020. Scalpers managed to snag a large quantity of them and attempt to resell them at double value. This raises the question of how to get a PS5 at retail price.
The Xbox Series X is also suffering from similar availability issues ever since its release. At least the Xbox Series S suffers a bit less so.
The 5-year-old Nintendo Switch has been a challenge to obtain off and on for quite some time, too. There are even rumors of a version 2 in the works, despite the recent release of the OLED version and the fact that the existing version is still in high demand.
Why Are These Consoles So Hard to Obtain?
There are three primary reasons. The aforementioned scalpers, the global chip shortage — and I don’t mean the tasty kind — and the COVID-19 pandemic. Though, in a sense, the chip shortage is technically umbrellaed underneath the pandemic.
As long as the demand exceeds the supply, scalpers will keep snatching up what they can to flip for profit.
While the chip shortage is still in effect, it’s unlikely for the available supply to pass that threshold. Unfortunately, the chip shortage is projected to continue into 2023, but quite possibly all the way into 2024.
The pandemic is heavily to blame, twice over. The first reason is due to the time lost when semiconductor factories in Taiwan had to stop for lockdown. The second reason is because of the greatly increased demand for devices that require those very chips.
The surge of work-from-home and remote learning necessitated a lot of equipment: PCs, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and webcams. Also, any home appliances that were put off while people didn’t spend as much time at home.
Once the more practical needs were covered, entertainment paraphernalia spiked, too. This led to massively unprecedented sales of gaming consoles, TVs, graphics cards, and such.
A prime example was the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch on March 20th, 2020. A mere 9 days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
Within the first 11 days after release, 11.77 million copies were sold. By the end of that fiscal year, there was a grand total of 35.9 million copies sold. That’s more than every other version of Animal Crossing combined.
So, What About Getting Myself a PS5?
Let’s get back to the question of ‘how to get a PS5 at retail price?’ My suggestions are all alternatives to coughing up the outrageous amounts of money that scalpers are asking for. Unfortunately, luck is a component for all of them.
The highest luck-varied version is to go to physical retailers regularly and check if anything is in stock. After all, the bots that scalpers are using can’t yoink the box out of your hands.
This is actually how I got my Nintendo Switch and Collectors Edition of Zelda: Breath of the Wild way back in April 2017. Pressing F for the person that preordered the CE and never picked it up so it got put on the shelf.
Another option that is still pretty luck-based; you can sign up for the purchase queue from PlayStation Direct. You need to be very, very patient though.
Next up is attempting to buy online once you know a retailer has done a restock. Sometimes it is announced in advance, but not always.
The reliable way to do this is to chase an alert once a web scraper bot has detected a site with some in stock. Just make sure to create your accounts in advance for any sites you’ll potentially buy from. Every moment counts from the nanosecond that alert goes out.
There are Twitter handles, like @CameronRitz and @MattSwider, that will make announcements, as well as some discord servers.
However, public alerts like that are, well, public. You’ll be finding out at the same time as countless other people that have alert notifications set up. One way to secure an advantage is to run a perpetual Web Scraper With Proxies.
That way, if your bot catches something separate from the public notif, you can squeeze in before the masses start slamming that poor retailer’s site, greatly increasing your chances of success.
I’ll be making a follow-up article that will go over making a web scraper a bit more in-depth. But, if in the meantime you’re eager to get started, check out these Five Tips for Outsmarting Anti-Scraping Techniques as well as these Free Libraries to Build Your Own Web Scraper.
While we’re on the subject of bots…
Drumroll please for the last option…
Break Out the Shopping Bots!
Scalpers are running some pretty sophisticated bots and potentially have several years of experience. This is particularly the case when they have experience copping sneakers or running Shopify Bots.
If you aren’t already confident in your coding abilities, a simple scraper is do-able. However, making a shopping bot that can go up against scalpers would be a huge undertaking.
But, as long as you have at least a little understanding of Python, you can try using Hari Nagarajan’s open-source shopping bot Fairgame. He made it with the motto, “If everyone is botting, then no one is botting,” as a way of pushing back against scalpers.
He eventually stopped personally developing it, but there are still active updates made by the community that regularly get implemented. Since it’s been out for a while, it’s pretty fleshed out and well optimized.
There is one thing to keep in mind, though. If you’re going to be running a scraper or shopping bot; you should use a proxy so you don’t get your IP address banned before you even get anywhere.
For a web scraper that gives restock notifications, your best bet is to use Rotating Residential Proxies.
For a shopping bot that needs to handle a persistent account login to make the purchase, you’ll need something with a persistent IP duration. This would be either paying for static IPs equal to the number of accounts and devices you’ll be using to attempt to shop with, or using appropriately configured Sticky Rotating Sessions.
A great economic choice for a project like this is KocerRoxy. Their quick and reliable service will protect your IP address from being banned at only 5$ per GB for their Residential IPs. This is a small price to pay to increase your odds of success while stubbornly pushing back against scalpers.
Now that you know how to get a PS5 at retail price, good luck! For a guide on how to start writing your own availability tracker in Python with BeautifulSoup, check out DIY PS5 Availability Tracker. Feel free to leave a comment below if you manage to luck out and snag one!