UK politicians want to solve the major problems with the market for the PS5 and Xbox Series X, which has been blighted by resellers and bots.
Since both consoles were released last month, they have been nearly impossible to buy through retailers.
That is thought to be in large part because of the large amount of legitimate demand and relatively limited supply. But it is also held back by resellers, who use automated systems to spot any listings for the consoles and buy them before humans are able to.
Those consoles can then be bought in bulk before being sold on the grey market at vastly inflated prices. That has meant that many players have been forced to play much more than the normal retail price if they want to buy the console any time after its release.
Now an early day motion, proposed by a host of SNP MPs, suggests that the law should be changed so that “new releases of gaming consoles and computer components” should be available to customers at no more than the usual recommended retail price, and that they should “not be bought in bulk by the use of automated bots which often circumvent maximum purchase quantities imposed by the retailer”.
The government could make doing so more difficult by following similar rules to those in that helped limit the effect of the secondary selling of event tickets, for instance. After a concerted campaign by event organisers and the cultural industries, it has become much harder to “tout” tickets for popular events by buying them up and selling them on at inflated prices.
It also suggests that the law should be changed so that anyone who does use such automated systems to snap up consoles is acting illegally. That would mean “denying unscrupulous vendors the chance to make themselves vast profits at the expense of genuine gamers and computer users, while also deterring fraudulent cybercriminal activity”, the MPs note in an early day motion.
The motion has been signed by 26 members of parliament – largely from the SNP and and Labour – meaning that it is a long way from passing into law.
But it comes amid increasing frustration with bots and resellers. Difficulties getting the consoles have left fans mostly without the PS5 and Xbox Series X ahead of the Christmas period, and have meant that every possible listing leads to a flurry of excitement, usually before leaving shoppers disappointed.