Consumers sheltering in place at home who were hoping to order a Nintendo Switch to stave off cabin fever during the COVID-19 pandemic have reportedly been thwarted by a newly introduced bot program designed to buy up consoles from e-retailers before ordinary humans can.
Dubbed Bird Bot, the open-source tool has been used by buyers looking for an edge over other consumers, as well as resellers who want to stock up on Switches in bulk and then sell them at sky-high prices for profit, Motherboard has reported. The program works in the same fashion as bots created to quickly snatch up in-demand sneakers from shoe retailers and event tickets for concerts and sporting events -- only in this case the targets are merchants such as Walmart and Best Buy.
Bird Bot has been made available via Discord, the digital distribution platform used by members of the video game community, and was initially created and introduced by a reseller who goes by Nate, the report continues.
"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, adding that the bot can be used to purchase other items as well.
"If you have an online presence, bots -- well-intentioned or not -- are on your web and mobile applications. Bots that are used to snatch limited-edition or sought-after products can frustrate your users by locking them out. These bot operators engage in the hoarding of such collectibles to resell them in the secondary market and make a huge profit, said Deepak Patel, security evangelist at PerimeterX, provided the following comments:
“For the brand, checkout bots that deny users access to products are seriously damaging their reputation. These bots are very sophisticated, change rapidly, and are tuned live during the launch of such limited edition products, making it really challenging to detect and mitigate them."