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Friday, January 21, 2022

Journalist, Philosopher, and the Mad Struggle for Game Consoles

Seconds before noon on Monday, Jake Randall began urging people watching his YouTube live stream to update the Walmart website on their computers.

At his behest, thousands of people across the country began pounding keys furiously as they scrambled to reach the vendor’s virtual queue for this holiday season’s hottest gift: a game console. To maximize his chances, Mr. Randall recommended that 8,000 viewers of his live stream also queue up through the Walmart app on their phones. As the minutes passed, a few lucky ones sent Mr. Randall screenshots of their purchases. Some have sent him donations – about $ 2,000 in total – in gratitude for his help. The rest were unsuccessful. An hour later, all the consoles were sold out.

Long lines at retail stores turn into fights, desperate shoppers are updating websites to overtake bots, and a makeshift industry of people like Mr. In the midst of the pandemic, a new generation of highly coveted devices was released. Microsoft’s Xbox Series X at a list price of $ 499 and Sony’s PlayStation 5 at $ 399 profited as games exploded in popularity as people got stuck indoors and they’ve been in high demand and in short supply ever since.

Now that the holiday shopping season is in full swing, those same consoles remain a must-have gift on many wishlists. The result is fierce competition from both other players and people who catch as many devices as they can – sometimes using so-called buying bots to grab them faster than a human could – and then resell them. for two or even three times more than a purchase. price on sites like eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

“I grew up playing video games. Everyone wants to be a video game hero, ”said Matt Swieder, who quit his journalism job last month and now sits in his New York City apartment, furiously crawling websites to send Twitter alerts to his followers whenever retailers merchants have consoles for sale. … “The villains in this story are resellers using bots both in person and online.”

Buying a game console this season is proving to be especially difficult this year. Taking a page on Amazon, retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, and GameStop make consoles available first to those who pay to participate in their membership programs in many cases. However, paying Best Buy around $ 200 a year for a subscription is not a guarantee that shoppers will get the console. In addition, customers follow people on YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, and Discord for clues and updates on which stores might have items in stock or when a console might suddenly become available for purchase on the website. Then it turns into a race to beat the bots.

For months, Victoria Garza, a 23-year-old medical student from Harlingen, Texas, has been frantically searching for her prize: a limited-edition Halo-themed Xbox. She follows Discord channels and Twitter accounts to alert her when the console is available. She gave her parents her credit card information so they could buy her an Xbox if she was at work when the console became available. Her dad even drives to the local GameStop every morning to see if there is any when the store opens.

The frustration with her still fruitless search for consoles is growing, she says. If she had one, she said: “I would immediately cry.”

While consoles are elusive when first released, that’s okay, but the shortages seen last year are not at all similar. The problems stem from the well-documented global supply chain problems caused by the pandemic, making the computer chips that are required for many devices are hard to come by.

“We are working with our manufacturing and retail partners as quickly as possible to accelerate production and delivery to meet unprecedented demand,” Microsoft said in a statement. He declined to comment on how many consoles have been sold so far.

Sony declined to comment on demand issues, instead citing a recent blog post by Jim Ryan, CEO of the company, in which he admitted that “limited inventory remains a source of frustration for many of our customers.”

“Rest assured that we are laser focused and are doing everything in our power to send as many units as possible,” Ryan wrote. Sony said in its September quarterly income statement that it has sold 13.4 million PlayStation 5s since its November 2020 release.

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David Gibson, a senior analyst at Australian financial services firm MST Financial, estimates that by the end of the year, Sony will ship 19 million consoles since the PlayStation 5 was released, while Microsoft has increased it from 11 million to 12 million. thanks in part to the release of its flagship game Halo. But he said both companies could have sold a lot more if the pandemic hadn’t put pressure on global supply chains. “The console market will not be able to catch up with demand until the end of 2022, if at all,” he said.

Shortly after the PlayStation 5 was first released, Mr Swider, then editor-in-chief of TechRadar, a technology review and recommendation website in the US, failed in his attempts to acquire it. So he started tracking and tweeting when he found game consoles for sale.

He began getting advice from employees at retail chains such as Best Buy and Walmart when a shipment of consoles arrived at individual stores or regional warehouses. At the end of last year, his Twitter account had 21,000 followers; now he has over a million.

He estimates that he helped over 130,000 people get the console this year. In return, he hopes to make money by charging $ 5 a month from subscribers for his new Substack newsletter, called “The Shortcut,” which will offer tech advice and advice on how to find a console or other electronics. When his followers use his links to purchase items on various retailer websites, he may receive a commission, called “affiliate fees,” on those sales.

Another retail sleuth, Mr. Randall, said that he didn’t make money from commissions, but he does make money from his many hours of live YouTube streams, which provide clues as to when retailers might release consoles, as well as tricks and tips about how to buy them. Mr. Randall, who is unable to work in a regular job due to cystic fibrosis, said the streams were more than just helping frustrated parents or hot console players.

“I don’t treat the disease, but with my limitations due to cystic fibrosis, I can help people get video conferencing and be happy, and that means a lot to me,” said 30-year-old Mr. Randall, broadcasting from his apartment. studios in Nashua, New Hampshire: “When I live live, I get a lot of love and support from the entire community.”

The past week or so, including Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday, has been a blur for many of these tipsters as retailers who haven’t had consoles for months have suddenly put thousands up for sale. On Discord and Twitter, messages filled with community jargon popped up at any time of the day or night, alerting shoppers when an Xbox “drop” (more products available for sale) had occurred or shouted with delight. when someone “took” (bought) the PlayStation 5.

Mr. Randall began streaming live at 6 a.m. each day, anticipating what he expected one morning to be more consoles from Target. Based on information he has received from employees within the company, including screenshots of inventory scans, he believes Target is sitting on a mountain of consoles. (Target did not directly answer the question of console shipments, but did make a number of consoles available Thursday morning.)

Some players have used the hints successfully.

Jeff Mahoney, a 38-year-old from Katy, Texas, said he acquired at least five PlayStations and two Xbox while tracking a Discord channel run by Lord Restock, who is actually a 21-year-old philosophy student at the University of Tampa. , who, when contacted, asked to remain anonymous because he did not want the resellers to target him. After acquiring a PlayStation for himself, Mr. Mahoney, who works for accounting firm KPMG, said he was able to buy other devices for neighbors who wanted holiday gifts for their children.

“I’m like, ‘Hey, you’re not going to pay $ 800 to some speculators who use bots and make everyone else’s life miserable,” he said. “I’m here to help.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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