One of the reasons the new PS5 and Xbox Series X and Series S consoles are so hard to get is the online scalpers using bots to secure stocks and to sell at inflated prices.
It’s an awful practice and one we wish could be eradicated across the web, whether it’s for consoles, concert tickets, and anything else that’s in limited supply.
Now US mega-retailer Walmart has revealed the scale of the problem and its noble efforts to beat the “Grinch bots”. In a blog post, Walmart said it blocked a truly staggering 20 million bot attempts to buy a PS5 within the first half-an-hour of a recent sales event.
Twenty million! And the company says that’s a fraction of the bots it has to deal with on a regular basis. Of those that made it through, the site was able to quickly cancel orders that slipped through the cracks and prevent the bots from succeeding.
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“As a result, the vast majority of our next-gen consoles have been purchased by legitimate customers, which is exactly what we want,” said Jerry Geisler, Chief Information Security Officer, Walmart Global Tech in a blog post.
So how did Jerry and crew manage to smack down the bots, while keeping the site alive and well? Well it starts with writing and continually re-writing its bot scripts to ensure Walmart keeps up with the latest nefarious tactics.
“Once a site becomes aware of a bot’s presence, it can utilize a number of strategies in an attempt to block the bot. 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,” he wrote.
Geisler ended the blog with a plea for lawmakers to interject and ensure legal ramifications are in place for those using bots, in order to ensure consumers don’t continue to lose out. Right now, in the UK, there are calls for the government to get involved to halt the practice of inflated reselling.