The Scalpers Are Coming! The Scalpers Are Coming!
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Scalpers are a scourge within the video game industry. All of their activity is detrimental to gaming fans, although it can be argued that they do provide a service to the richer folk out there. Essentially what they do is buy up products, gouge the prices, and manipulate supply and demand. This makes it so only people who are financially struggling are barred from experiencing products that they might otherwise have loved. It’s frustrating and, often, it feels like there’s no recourse. But is there anything that can be done about it?

There is, although it’s a tricky proposal. Part of the responsibility falls on companies, like Nintendo, who are making the product in the first place. Nintendo products are notorious targets of scalpers and the company doesn’t do much to avoid it. In some ways, it almost seems like they benefit from the activity. Scalpers buy the supply, the products become hard to find, demand increases. Suddenly everybody is locked in competition with one another, trying to be the first to the store so they can buy an Amiibo or whatever before other customers or, worse, scalpers scoop them up.

We’ve seen this happen plenty of times. Nintendo alone has faced a scarcity with the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition, Super NES Classic Edition, various Amiibo, the Nintendo Switch, the Nintendo Wii, and now it is looking like they are poised to reward scalpers once again. They recently announced Super Mario 3D All-Stars in celebration of their 35th collection. This game will be for the Nintendo Switch and collects Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy into one convenient spot. Considering how rare and expensive old Nintendo titles can be, there is a lot of reasons to be excited by this announcement. Unfortunately, the game is a limited release and will only be available for purchase from September 18th to some point at the end of March. This isn’t much an obstacle for gamers who plan to buy the product digitally, but for those looking to acquire a physical release, they’ll have to compete with scalpers who are already selling pre-orders of the game. In some cases, this $60 dollar game is being listed for more than double its price.

If money isn’t an issue for you, you might be inclined to purchase the game anyway. But you really shouldn’t. If scalpers can’t quickly turn a profit after spending their money on a product, they will lose their incentive to scalp in the first place. It’s best not to reward price gougers. While nobody is entitled to a game, it’s better for everybody if we can keep the prices down. Well, unless you prefer to pay more just to have better odds of acquiring the game because most people can’t afford to buy games at gouged prices. Or if you’re a company that benefits from the buzz created from the scarcity. But the rest of us shouldn’t be encouraging this behavior by caving into the demands of scalpers.

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It’s a complicated issue, to be certain. It’s hard to trust that other people are going to take action against a certain behavior. But it might help to remember how boycotts and petitions against EA in response to their controversial use of microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront 2 changed the company’s practices, both for the specific game and, seemingly, for their future releases. Things like this aren’t impossible. We just have to be very deliberate in how we vote with our wallet.

Benjamin Maltbie
Benjamin Maltbie

Writing Team Lead
Date: 10/01/2020

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