Here’s What We’re Doing to Stop Bots From Snatching the PlayStation 5-news

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(Credit: Walmart)

As scalpers continue to buy up and resell the PlayStation 5 at inflated prices, you may be wondering if anything can be done to stop automated bots from hoarding all the stock. 

According to Walmart, the retailer has had success in stopping bots from snatching new PS5 units before real consumers can buy them, pointing to a recent incident during a pre-Thanksgiving sale for the in-demand console.  

“One bot preventative action we implemented just hours before the PlayStation 5 event on Nov. 25 blocked more than 20 million bot attempts within the first 30 minutes alone,” Jerry Geisler, Walmart’s chief information security officer, wrote in a blog post. 

The bots were able to make that staggering number of attempts thanks to software automation. Bot programs monitor retailer web pages for new product listings, and then make repeated purchases on behalf of the scalper within seconds, depleting available stock before real consumers can even add the product to their carts.

According to Geisler, the 20 million-plus bot attempts represent a mere fraction of what Walmart’s systems deal with on a routine basis. However, the retailer says it’s been able to thwart scalpers using unspecified anti-bot techniques. 

“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 said. 

“As an additional step, we also audit and quickly cancel any orders confirmed to be purchased by bots that may have slipped through,” Geisler added. “As a result, the vast majority of our next-gen consoles have been purchased by legitimate customers, which is exactly what we want.”

That said, the consoles remain hard to buy. Supplies for the PS5 and the Xbox Series X have been limited while consumer demand for them has been overwhelming. Coupled with the pandemic and the need to stay at home, Walmart has witnessed unprecedented levels of internet traffic to its website and mobile app.

“What we’re seeing at the end of the year is a person with two mobile phones, a laptop and tablet, constantly refreshing the product pages,” said a Walmart spokesperson. “Potentially, millions of people are all doing this at the same time.”

The company’s goal is to weed out automated bots from the traffic surge. But Walmart also likened the effort to a neverending cat-and-mouse game. As a long-term solution, Geisler is calling on US lawmakers to crack down on the automated bots. “We hope others across the retail industry will join us by asking lawmakers to do more to prevent these unwanted bots on retail sites, so customers have equal access to the products they want,” he wrote. 

Congress passed anti-bot legislation in 2016 with the Better Online Tickets Sales Act, but it only outlaws the resale of tickets for commercial events that’ve been purchased using bot technology.

As for PS5 and Xbox Series X, Walmart plans on selling more stock today at 3 p.m. EST/12 p.m. PST on the company’s website and the mobile app. However, the units will only be available for delivery and will arrive after Dec. 25.

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