Much like the rest of the world, it’s no surprise that the PlayStation 5 India launch has been marred by scalpers aplenty until Sony announces a PS5 restock date. And while price gouging in-demand products is nothing new in India, as we’ve seen in the past with listings surfacing on multiple sites following Xiaomi flash sales or in the days after Nvidia releasing its flagship GPUs. PS5 fans in India, however, are having none of it.
Rather than spend more than the maximum retail price (MRP) of Rs. 49,990 for a PS5 or abstain from purchase, IGN India has discovered that a substantial portion of the Indian gaming community is actively reporting scalpers and preventing their listings from remaining on marketplaces like OLX.
In fact, it has reached a point where listings for the PS5 above Rs. 50,000 are reported and taken down with lightning speed. To the point where scalpers are forced to list a lower price online, tempting would be buyers to call or message only to be told that they’re asking for almost double what the product has been listed at.
“I have no choice but to do this,” claims one Mumbai-based scalper on condition of anonymity. “Every listing gets pulled so instead of pricing at Rs. 80,000 I say Rs. 50,000.”
While the ploy works in getting prospective customers, few are willing to pay the asking price, forcing him to resort to other measures like selling at cost.
How did it get to this? It all began with Reddit.
“Reports are coming in scalpers are not able to sell PS5 in India and are getting abused for selling in high price,” reads a post on the Indian Gaming subreddit. “If this continues chances are scalpers will return stock and new stock will be available for preorder. Most of the OLX ads are reported and got banned.”
What followed was a flurry on activity in support of such a move.
“Just reported these ads from Delhi and Ludhiana, guys do your part too,” said one commenter.
“Reported eight of them,” said another. “Power to us.”
“I’ll gladly do my part for the community, and report as many scalping ads on OLX as I can,” claimed a third.
It wasn’t just Reddit either. Multiple members of the Indian gaming community speaking to IGN India under condition of anonymity asked those on their Facebook and WhatsApp groups as well as Discord servers to report scalpers en-masse. IGN India has seen chat logs of such groups and can confirm their veracity.
“We are trying to report all OLX ads so they are not able to sell over MRP and we can stop before our situation become like US,” says one such coordinator. “Everyday most ads go down really fast.”
For its part, IGN India had made Sony aware of such activities since the PS5 had launched. The company finally responded to our request for comment this week committing to a ‘zero tolerance policy’.
“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,” reads a statement from a Sony spokesperson to IGN India over email. “We sincerely expect that the third-party retail partners operate in compliance of the legal frame work of our country and follow ethical business practices. We have ‘zero tolerance policy’ for any practices that are inconsistent to the afore-said. We have taken steps, as deemed appropriate and available with company including but not limited to discontinuing our association with such channel partners.”
Despite Sony’s approach, some feel it’s hypocritical of the company. Reason being, leading up to the PS5’s launch the only way you could buy the console at offline stores is if and only if you added a game or accessory to your purchase.
“Sony India themselves scalped,” says esports consultant Aditya Shah. “You had to buy a ‘bundle’ if you wanted a PS5. For them to draw the line when someone wants to make a quick buck is ridiculous. It’s as if only corporations should be allowed to profit and no one else.”
Others, however some think that it’s a sign of the relative newness and kind of audience gaming attracts in India versus the likes of sneaker culture.
“When you look at how mass market gaming has become in the last few years with games like PUBG and Among Us, the audience is less likely to pay a premium,” says avowed sneaker-head Jayesh Bhagchandani. “With sneakers it’s pretty much expected that if you miss a limited drop, you’ll have to pay over and above the original price. In fact some collectors take pride in paying more. It’s a different audience.”
While the gaming community has stepped up, reporting listings online can only go so far. Furthermore, outside of India’s metros, cities like Pune and Surat have seen heavy demand for the PS5 with scalping going offline and in-store. In such cases retailers are either selling PS5 stock obtained from Sony at a price higher than MRP or acquiring consoles at the official price of Rs. 49,990 to sell at a Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 25,000 mark up, IGN India has been told.
The only real solution to scalping is to ensure a steady supply of consoles. Sony’s track record where this is concerned is spotty at best. During last generation we noticed that if PS4 consoles hit the shelves in March or April they would have an import sticker dating back to December or January. Assuming Sony follows the same strategy with the PS5, the rumoured March restock may very well include units imported earlier. Hopefully the company does a better job keeping up this time around.