It's no secret that scalpers are a major problem when it comes to just about anything in the video game industry. But there are still moments where I really have to wonder why we haven't made any major steps towards containing the problem. Forget initial console releases, the advent of a new console bundle, or amiibo. Scalping has even begun to reach merchandise that's on the very fringes of the video game industry.
A set of basketball shoes were announced at the end of January 2018. These were set to be co-designed and produced by NBA All-Star Paul George, Nike, and PlayStation. The sneaks in question had PlayStation branding and coloring all over them, as well as a voucher code for an unidentified digital reward for PlayStation users. Needless to say, PlayStation fans everywhere were excited.
The shoes were set to release on February 10, 2018. They would cost $110, and the best chance of nabbing them was supposedly through the Nike SNKRS app. Within a few short hours, the shoes had completely sold out. What's worse, although slightly to be expected, they started appearing instantly after on eBay for astronomically high prices. Some pairs of the PlayStation shoes even had bids as high as $1,400. This is outrageous, considering the initial buy price directly from Nike.
It seemed PlayStation anticipated that something like this would happen, as the shoes were given away in a sort of lottery system. You chose which size you would and gave the system your basic information, in case you won the right to buy a pair. A great many fans were left lamenting, as they were not lucky enough to purchase a pair of the shoes. They were either left out or gave in to scalpers high price demands.
The latter decision there is where the problem really lies. As long as we keep paying scalpers the prices that they're asking, they will keep doing what they do. No matter how much we loath them and curse their existence, scalpers will only hang around so long as there is money to be had. If we didn't buy their re-sold products, they'd undoubtedly find something else more productive and financially rewarding to do with their time. This is of course not a new thought process. Just like anything in life, if there's no demand, then the supply dries up.
I'm wagering that we should look at this process from a bit of a different perspective. Let's take the scalpers out of the equation for a moment. Say that PlayStation released this limited edition shoes and say everyone who bought a pair actually wanted them for themselves or a loved one. This perfect world doesn't exist, but if it did, do you think everyone would be satisfied? There would still be dozens, if not hundreds and thousands, of people feeling left out because they didn't get the chance to have them for their very own. This is the very definition of “limited edition,” though. Some people are lucky and get to enjoy the product, while a countless number of others are always going to be left out.
In an era where we have the ability to get just about anything we'd ever want at the tips of our fingers either in person or online, we seem to have forgotten what limited edition means. Not everyone can have everything, and that's okay. Sure, we'd all love to have a pair of PlayStation sneakers, but the whole point is for just some people to have them. That makes them worth so much more emotionally and financially, which is the point.
Even if we did do a better job of reminding ourselves that limited edition means plenty of people are going to be left out, scalpers are still a massive problem. It's clear that companies understand this and want to make changes, but a lot of them are left completely befuddled on what to do. How would you solve the scalping problem? Let me know in the comments below!