How Sneaker Bots Snatched Up All the PS5s and 3080s

Phil had a single goal in mind: buy the fancy new RTX 3080 graphics card from Nvidia. An IT professional and indie developer, Phil's work is made easier with the latest graphics tech. The problem for Phil, who asked to keep their identity anonymous to avoid drawing attention to their work and is using a pseudonym to participate in this story, is that the RTX is sold out everywhere. Nvidia doesn't expect to be able to keep up with demand until well into 2021.

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Let’s be serious: int the backend of every Ecommerce platform there are multiple tools to filter, analyze, exclude and approve every step of the purchase; and bot filtering is pretty basic stuff… So if you allow them to run rampant on your platform you are either unprepared (unlikely given the brand involved) or accomplice, enjoying the artificial scarcity and media coverage you get.

Anyway “Everything is a commodity now, thanks late stage capitalism”.


It’s absolutely the latter. The scalpers on eBay are a great scapegoat for obfuscating the grossly insufficient launch stock of products like the 3080.

I honestly think companies want this to happen. My gosh, look how in demand our product is! We sold out in seconds.

On the other hand, this is starting to approach agent-based shopping (which has been an idea in CS for a while) where we as humans stop visiting e-commerce sites and just tell a bot “Buy me a PS5 when it’s under $300 dollars, tax and shipping included” and wait till it arrives. Which is still consumerist as hell, but it might be a bit more humane.

Valve’s approach with the Index headsets makes the most sense to me. Allow people to sign-up for the next wave of stock, and if that wave is depleted, bump them to the next one with a production time estimate.

Virtual Black Friday stampedes competing with bots every time there’s new stock at some awful early hour of the morning is miserable. Having an order get randomly cancelled a day before ship is pure misery. I want to just buy my expensive toy already and be done with this.

I miss stores. Fifteen characters.

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