Can't Find A Nintendo Switch In Stores? Blame These Auto-Purchasing Bots
Two electronics devices that have been particularly hard to come by during the coronavirus outbreak are the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite. The consoles have been out of stock as people around the world look for fun gaming devices to use while stuck at home. However, some of this shortage is being attributed to resellers who are using bots to buy up all the stock so that they can turn around and resell the Switch consoles at a big profit.
These bots buy up stock is soon as it's available at retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy. The consoles are then being resold on Amazon and eBay at hundreds of dollars over the suggested retail price. One of the bots that's being used to gobble up Switch stock to enable resellers to sell at marked-up prices is called Bird Bot.
Bird Bot is explicitly made for buying the Nintendo Switch, and its designer made it open source so that anyone can use it. The developer of Bird Bot goes by the name "Nate" and says that while the bot was designed to purchase Switches, but can be used to purchase other items with some modifications. Nate also says that Bird Bot can be used for individuals looking to grab a single Switch for themselves.
Bird Bot and other similar software tools -- including Scottbot and Swift -- operate by identifying if the Switch is in stock at a retailer. When the item is in stock, it adds it to the cart and completes the checkout process as quickly as possible in an effort to beat other buyers to the checkout process. Retailers typically attempt to block automated tools like these bots, so it's a constant back and forth battle between retailers blocking the bots and the finding new workarounds to continue functioning.
There are also some less complex services that send text messages or emails when consoles go back in stock, leaving the actual purchase up to the end-user. There also services such as Brickseek, a website that alerts users when Switch consoles are available in physical stores nearby. Some resellers, however, claim to have more success with buying in local stores than online -- but that can be a tricky proposition with most retail locations being shut down at the moment.
As stock has fallen for the Switch and demand has gone up, some Switch shoppers are paying the inflated prices with completed listings on eBay showing the Animal Crossing: New Horizon special edition console bundle selling for around $800 routinely. Others have gone to more extreme methods. One DIYer was so fed up with being unable to find a Switch at a reasonable price that he built his own using official spare parts.