We are living in trying and uncertain times that are stress-testing many of our established practices and systems. Many people are uncertain about the future and many of those buy things in desperate haste. Unfortunately, there will also be people more than willing to take advantage of the situation to make a quick buck. Just like some price gougers who are now turning to technology, specifically a new bot, that lets them buy Nintendo Switches faster than Nintendo can supply them.
There were already signs as far back as February that Nintendo might have inventory problems for its most popular console ever. Successful launches of new games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and quarantine orders have caused a spike in demand for the Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, that demand far outnumbered available stocks and stores quickly ran out of supplies.
Scarcity often gives rise to resellers that will nearly or actually double the price of products that are in high demand but short supply. Nintendo Switch resellers are, for example, selling the console for around $500 when they normally cost only $299. But where are these gougers getting their stocks? Apparently from the same official retailers you’d normally be able to buy from.
These enterprising individuals are now using a new bot, nicknamed Bird Bot, to gain the upper hand. This bot can routinely check websites that sell items like the Switch and, the moment they come in stock, buy as many as they can in a flash. Many stores try to block these bots but Bird Bot might be too new to even come under their radar. That is until now.
As an open source program, Bird Bot is open for anyone’s use, ironically including consumers who are also desperate to get their hands on Switch. It requires quite a bit of computer skills to set up but there are places where interested people can get help. Sadly, it’s a kind of technology and community spirit that are working to the disadvantage of people in the long run.