Id Software co-founder John Carmack has suggested a novel approach to combat the scourge of scalpers and resellers who are taking advantage of the global shortage of semiconductors: auctioning off new consoles and PC hardware.
Supply of PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles have been unable to keep up with demand, while PC hardware such as Nvidia’s latest range of RTX graphics cards have also been snatched up by scalpers and resold for a price that includes a hefty mark-up. When the figures were last tallied up, it was estimated that resellers had made over $82 million in profit.
Carmack’s idea is for Sony, Microsoft, and Nvidia to cut out the middlemen from business, and auction off console stock themselves. Would this initially lead to incredibly high bids from interested buyers? Absolutely, but Carmack believes that this strategy would cut out resellers from getting their hands on new generation consoles and making a profit afterward.
“Given shortages and speculators on things like 3090 GPUs and new consoles, it seems like we really would be better off with a transparent auction system directly from the manufacturers and a more efficient market,” Carmack wrote. “The world of sales channels prevented that in the past, but we may be moving past that for a lot of products. There would be much indignation at reported prices out of the gate, but removing intermediaries should net out better for consumers in the end.”
In another post, Carmack also mentioned that the current low availability of these consoles remains advantageous to Sony and Microsoft’s business, as the consoles have consistently sold out within minutes whenever new stock has been brought in. Combatting the reseller market by pricing these consoles higher, could damage the current consumer demand for these high-value items.
The market continues to be a high stakes game of fastest fingers first for anyone interested in buying a PS5 or an Xbox Series X. Resellers are snatching up consoles instantly using an army of malware and bots to do so, which has led to the UK government’s minister for digital and culture, Caroline Dinenage, to propose a bill that would make the act of scalping consoles illegal.
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