Published: 12/11/2020

Scalper Bots Target Retailers for PS5 and Xbox Series X

  • Netacea, Agentless Bot Management

3 minutes read

Scalper bots, also known as inventory hoarding bots, are the bots that thrive on supply and demand. These malicious bots are used to target merchandise that is typically in high demand or limited supply, buying it and selling it on for a tidy profit.

The key thing here, is that scalper bots can make purchases extraordinarily quickly, much faster than any genuine user can. By acquiring the sought-after merchandise while demand is still high, they are tapping into an existing market of customers willing to spend – and spend big money – to get their hands on that item.

Scalping OWASP Netacea

Scalping “How it works” diagram (OWASP)

Xbox Series X launch hit by scalper bots

This is an incredibly unfair system, because the scalper bots are driving the prices up beyond the reach of genuine customers. The most recent instance of scalper bot injustice befell PS5 and Xbox Series X customers.

On Tuesday 10th November, retailers saw their stock of Xbox Series X sell out almost immediately. Best Buy had priced the product at $499.99, but the console was quickly popping up on eBay for a whopping $6,000 and on Currys PC for £2,449.

Xbox series x scalpers

Xbox series x scalpers

Scalpers eying PS5 launch

Next on the list is the PS5 launch. Although the console has yet to be officially launched, pre-orders have already been listed on eBay for $900. Here, just like the Xbox Series X, scalpers have doubled the asking price.

The real threat to gamers is that there are a limited number of PlayStation 5 consoles available, with Covid-19 playing a significant role here, and if the bulk are scalped by bots, that leaves gamers with little choice but pay the marked-up price or wait until the next release in 2021.

The upcoming launch days in the US and UK are critical to those committed gamers who want to buy the PS5 this side of Christmas.

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Scalper bots are a growing problem. Most recently we saw scalpers targeting Nvidia graphics cards. A lot of customers missed the purchasing window for graphics cards and will be left waiting for their return for some time, thanks to scalper bots. We’re seeing that tale replay itself for PS5 and Xbox Series X customers, and we’re likely to see it again before long.

The trouble is that using scalper bots isn’t illegal, despite those carrying out scalper bot activity looking fraud straight in the eye as they pocket the profits. And bots are facilitated by the functionality of eCommerce sites, which have been built to enable consumers to buy a lot of products very quickly.


Stopping scalper bots from acquiring your stock requires a solution that continually adapts and evolves to understand and detect the intent of your website visitors.

Netacea delivers technology designed to protect websites from bot attacks. Netacea’s revolutionary approach to bot management empowers businesses with control over automated bot traffic, with the ability to detect bots and block malicious traffic in real-time.

Sign up for a personalised demo and find out how Netacea stops sophisticated scalper bots from depleting your goods or services, while prioritising genuine users.

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