John Carmack, the co-founder of id Software, a current advisor to Oculus, and the godfather of the FPS genre, believes there is a solution to fix the long-standing issue.
IGN India reported about how the scalpers of the PlayStation 5 use a widely known e-commerce website, OLX (think of an equivalent of eBay). The players then reported the listings, which made the scalpers list the consoles for the original price… and then offer the increased costs privately. This didn’t help them either.
IGN reports that some retailers have also participated in the price gouging! Sony has responded with the following statement: „We have taken serious note of the feedback of our patrons that have been made on our social media handles and reportedly on other platforms. We sincerely expect that third-party retail partners operate in compliance with the legal framework of our country and follow ethical business practices. We have a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ for any practices that are inconsistent with the aforesaid. We have taken steps, as deemed appropriate and available with the company including but not limited to discontinuing our association with such channel partners.”
Carmack on the other hand tweeted his solution to the scalpers and the shortages: „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. 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.” He’s not wrong: Sony already has a direct-to-consumer option with Sony Direct in the United States, and soon in Europe, too.
He didn’t say how this solution would get rid of the scalper bots, but he added that the console markers are possibly reluctant to go this way, as shortages have historically helped to drive demand and brand value. Later, he added that many people dislike free markets: „I take a fairly extreme position on the positive value to society of free markets and free speech, even when they produce distasteful outcomes, but I don’t expect broad agreement.”
He’s not wrong, though.