The Nintendo Switch shortage, which has resulted in rampant price gouging by opportunistic sellers, is apparently partially caused by an open-source bot that automatically purchases the console.
It has been difficult to track down Nintendo Switch stock amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and according to a report by Vice’s Motherboard, the issue is further worsened by resellers who are hoarding the console with the help of the free Bird Bot.
Motherboard said that it has tracked some of the bulk buyers of the Nintendo Switch to a community that is using the Bird Bot, a tool created by someone simply known as Nate.
“I decided to make it as a joke, but I quickly realized just how powerful it could be,” Nate told Motherboard in an online chat. Bird Bot was designed to buy stocks of the Nintendo Switch from Walmart and Best Buy as soon as they are posted.
“Me and my friends were talking about reselling Nintendo Switches, and at one point my friend, nicknamed Bird, told me I should make a bot. And here we are today,” said Nate.
Nate, who is also a reseller but focuses on sneakers, released the tool for free, allowing anyone to download it. This includes resellers who are looking to make some profit off of the console, as well as people who are desperate to acquire one while they are stuck at home to avoid the coronavirus.
The Discord server for people using Bird Bot had 600 participants when Motherboard joined, with chat logs indicating that there have been up to 1,000 participants recently. The participants post their success stories in snapping up Nintendo Switch units, as well as share tips on how to secure stock of the console.
Potentially making the problem worse is that other, more established bots that are usually used for sneakers, such as Scottbot and Swift, may also be tweaked to buy Nintendo Switch units.
The losers of this scenario are the regular customers who are not using bots, as they are nowhere near fast enough to purchase a Nintendo Switch before they are gone. Even if Nintendo is able to carry out a mass restock of the console, it appears that Bird Bot and its ilk will not let people get the chance to buy one for themselves.
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