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Sony actually counters bots

Someone just told me this is how Sony has been doing this launch the entire time. I must have missed it until now!

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Summary

Sony has taken effective action in stopping bots and scalpers. Right now if you go to playstation.com to purchase a PS5, you are prompted with a CAPTCHA followed by a queue. Once you are in the queue and its your turn, you will be given enough time to make a purchase. This is the only company that has actually taken action and I'm super happy. So if you want a PS5, head to www.playstation.com and wait in line online!!!!

 

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My thoughts

Just like that Sony has become my favorite company. I don't care even if they run out of PS5s today.

 

Sources

www.playstation.com

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27 minutes ago, Jet_ski said:

 Right now if you go to playstation.com to purchase a PS5, you are prompted with a CAPTCHA followed by a queue. Once you are in the queue and its your turn, you will be given enough time to make a purchase. This is the only company that has actually taken action and I'm super happy.

Lots of retailers had CAPTCHA for the Radeon launch. It didn't help.

 

Contrary to popular belief, CAPTCHA isn't actually bot proof - there are lots of online CAPTCHA solving services/libraries available these days, and they're probably better at finding the traffic lights than you are. Adding CAPTCHA to these purchase forms doesn't do much to prevent scalpers.

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18 minutes ago, tim0901 said:

Lots of retailers had CAPTCHA for the Radeon launch. It didn't help.

 

Contrary to popular belief, CAPTCHA isn't actually bot proof - there are lots of online CAPTCHA solving services/libraries available these days, and they're probably better at finding the traffic lights than you are. Adding CAPTCHA to these purchase forms doesn't do much to prevent scalpers.

I can pay a third world country $1.00/hr to solve as many CAPTCHAs for me as I need via an API. It's basically third world MTURKs. Works great

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Oh nice, so you get to wait in the queue with a couple thousand bots.

 

Couldn't they limit the number of consoles someone buys... by limiting it be x amount per address + credit card ? Maybe with phone verification ? Surely scalpers don't have access to an unlimited number of home addresses and credit cards... right?

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24 minutes ago, TetraSky said:

Oh nice, so you get to wait in the queue with a couple thousand bots.

 

Couldn't they limit the number of consoles someone buys... by limiting it be x amount per address + credit card ? Maybe with phone verification ? Surely scalpers don't have access to an unlimited number of home addresses and credit cards... right?

 

29 minutes ago, rcmaehl said:

I can pay a third world country $1.00/hr to solve as many CAPTCHAs for me as I need via an API. It's basically third world MTURKs. Works great

Where the bots beat humans is the check out process. Because if the bots ping the server too many times they get blocked, so the bots have to lengthen the intervals. This gives humans a chance to land on the page and it’s actually random; the bots aren’t guaranteed to win. So if you had 2 mins to place an order once you’ve landed on the page, without the bots purchasing all of the inventory instantly, you could actually buy stuff.

 

Also Sony’s CAPTCHA is the open ended one, where you have to do multiple images. It’s not as easy/quick to break as the other one.

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19 minutes ago, TetraSky said:

Oh nice, so you get to wait in the queue with a couple thousand bots.

 

Couldn't they limit the number of consoles someone buys... by limiting it be x amount per address + credit card ? Maybe with phone verification ? Surely scalpers don't have access to an unlimited number of home addresses and credit cards... right?

Prepaid cards or services like privacy.com allow them to get around the credit card check. And chances are they're ordering from multiple sites simultaneously - who cares if you only get x per site per address when you're shopping at 20+ places at once?

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1 hour ago, tim0901 said:

Lots of retailers had CAPTCHA for the Radeon launch. It didn't help.

 

Contrary to popular belief, CAPTCHA isn't actually bot proof - there are lots of online CAPTCHA solving services/libraries available these days, and they're probably better at finding the traffic lights than you are. Adding CAPTCHA to these purchase forms doesn't do much to prevent scalpers.

But waiting over an hour in queue is... you're missing the point completely. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Mark Kaine said:

But waiting over an hour in queue is... you're missing the point completely.

Since when is waiting hard for a computer?

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1 minute ago, Energycore said:

Since when is waiting hard for a computer?

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They should do it old school and have in store only purchases on release day. I remember waiting in line overnight for a Sega Dreamcast at KB Toys back in 1998.
Also, this whole only X amount per store is lame.
 

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This is a very very normal process that a lot of stores would have in place. I highly doubt sony just implemented this.

Judge the product by its own merits, not by the Company that created it.

 

Don't dilute <good thing> by always trying to focus on, and drag conversation back to, <bad thing>.

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3 minutes ago, Energycore said:

Since when is waiting hard for a computer?

It's not hard for the computer... but for scalpers who want to buy as many as fast as possible it might be. Also if true a "human customer" would get enough time to make their purchase without a "bot" being faster at check out.

 

 

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1 minute ago, Arika S said:

This is a very very normal process that a lot of stores would have in place. I highly doubt don't just implemented this.

It's not, EVGA is just one example.

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5 minutes ago, Mark Kaine said:

It's not hard for the computer... but for scalpers who want to buy as many as fast as possible it might be. Also if true a "human customer" would get enough time to make their purchase without a "bot" being faster at check out.

 

 

But then a bot would just beat the human to place earlier in the queue. 🤔 The issue wouldn't be about who can check out faster anymore, it's just who can register in the queue faster which would still be the bots. Granted you would need multiple systems running bots now... But for an organized group this wouldn't be much of an issue. 

 

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Eh, I don't like scalpers. That doesn't mean I like Sony. Stop striking YouTube accounts that are giving Sony and Playstation games free publicity? Also a captcha isn't going to do much against human-run scalping activity. You can have Nintendo use captcha for Switch sales and it make absolutely no difference in end result.

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19 minutes ago, BlueChinchillaEatingDorito said:

Granted you would need multiple systems running bots now...

Considering you can run those bots on an Atom laptop if you use a super light Linux distro + browser + disable long loading stuff like images and stuff which the bot won't care about, I could see someone setting this up.

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now there are going to be those ever so slightly rude people who are just going to flood the queue instead of scalping them

 

after all if you can't have them, why can others?

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It's a decent implementation, but there are only two main ways to cut down on scalpers:

The first would be to implement a lot more privacy-unfriendly hurdles that can't be easily subverted. 

The second would be eliminating/delaying online sales; in-store only purchases, one per customer - online sales begin 60 days after physical release. Obviously people can still re-sell these, but compared to the ease and sheer quantity that bots can attain through multiple e-tailers, it would limit it by a fairly substantial margin. Does the industry want to go backwards? It's hard to say, but unless someone does something, consumer fallout will reach ever higher levels.

Technically, there is a third way. That would be altering the purchase process so as to eliminate a bots effectiveness. Bots rely on the same typical checkout at all the major retailers. Creating differentiating layers of the checkout process for each new release based on whatever criteria they want (time, location, device), to alter and effectively make the checkout process one that can't be automated without significant sophistication.

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1 hour ago, Mark Kaine said:

But waiting over an hour in queue is... you're missing the point completely. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You just need the screen open, it will play a sound once it’s your turn! And then you have 10 minutes to make a purchase.

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the real way to beat bots IMO is:

1. block non-residential gateways (make it harder for bots to use proxy's or vpn (i know residential proxys are a thing))

2. captcha when entering site (I know this is avoidable too) 

3. one cc per account (I know this is avoidable) 

4. blacklist ip's if there are to many requests (i know good bots will switch to another proxy)

5. email confirmation on purchases w/ captcha there.

6. xx items per ip.

7. xx items per adress

 

 

 

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There is a much better way to do this, but the amount of effort put in to curb scalping thus far (not just Sony) suggest they don't really care about scalpers to implement it...

  1. Reserve a large chunk of supply to sell directly to end user
  2. Limit order quantity
  3. Set a 1 day timeout on every payment info and delivery address used to clear an order
  4. Tie the serial number of the unit sold, to identity and address used to place order. And then require final user to input same details to activate the product.

This way if the person buying the item is not the one using it, the product simply will not function. And even if scalpers are willing to provide their info to their customers, the quantity limit and throttling will make it logistically excruciating, if not impossible, to be done on any scale.

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7 hours ago, Jet_ski said:

Someone just told me this is how Sony has been doing this launch the entire time. I must have missed it until now!

--------

Summary

Sony has taken effective action in stopping bots and scalpers. Right now if you go to playstation.com to purchase a PS5, you are prompted with a CAPTCHA followed by a queue. Once you are in the queue and its your turn, you will be given enough time to make a purchase. This is the only company that has actually taken action and I'm super happy. So if you want a PS5, head to www.playstation.com and wait in line online!!!!

 

IMG_379851E177C3-1.thumb.jpeg.9c479f587446f05be07a4e626b525056.jpeg

 

My thoughts

Just like that Sony has become my favorite company. I don't care even if they run out of PS5s today.

 

Sources

www.playstation.com

That's not even a solution. That almost certainly does nothing to counter the scalping/bots, and does everything to frustrate the user. The captchas are easily solved by the same computer vision algorithms that are used to create them. Or paying people in India pennies to do it via Amazon Mechanical Turk.

 

A solution would be requiring to purchase from your existing PS4/PS3 playstation account, which will then immediately register that playstation 5 shipped to you. Limit it to 1 per account, per 30 days. If you try to sell or scalp the unit, you won't be able to remove your account from it for 30 days, and the person who pays for it will not be able to remove it until then. Don't even think about creating throw-away accounts, as accounts with no playtime, no games or no service, or no previous ps3/ps4 console would be at the back of the line. Thank you for your loyalty to Sony, here's you PS5 for having purchased the PS3 and PS4 in the past and spending 300 hours on at least two titles at full retail price.

 

Anyway, that's just the way I'd solve it. If you're not a loyal sony fan, then you have to buy one at retail.

 

And the consequences for scalping would be much harsher, see what Sony did with people scalping their PS5 gift codes to PS4 users for the Playstation+

https://gadgets.ndtv.com/games/news/playstation-5-sony-ban-selling-access-ps-plus-collection-playstation-4-owners-fraud-psn-2332216

Quote

PS5 owners who got the PS Plus Collection for free were reportedly found selling access to these to PS4 owners by charging them money and giving their account details. According to a report by ScreenRant, a user made more than $133 by charging PS4 owners almost $7 if they wanted to sign in to his account.

 

Like, please just ban these people for a few months.

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One thing I feels is important here,

 

Asking the stores to do CC checks isn't possible and really shouldn't be either. The reason online stores use payment processors is so they don't have to touch your payment information. For the store to limit units to x per CC it would require them to take and store every CC number used to make a purchase from them.

 

I shouldn't need to say this but that is a VERY bad idea.

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There are always ways to circumnavigate the methods stores implement, we just need to make it hard enough for the scalpers that most don't bother.

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Well, Sony's best interest is for people to get the consoles and start spending on games and other aftersales services. 500 consoles sitting in someone's garage are doing them more harm than good.

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