Following the creation of an Early Day Motion to discuss console scalping in the UK, it seems MPs are now beginning to draft legislation to tackle the issue – although I wouldn’t get your hopes up for anything to become law in the near future.
Named the Gaming Hardware (Automated Purchase and Resale) Bill 2019-21, the bill has been introduced to the House of Commons by Scottish National Party MP Douglas Chapman, who hopes to tackle console scalping in a similar manner to ticket touting. The bill was presented to Parliament on 3rd February, and is currently being prepared for publication (no date has yet been set for the second reading and debate in the Commons).
The bill is what’s known as a Private Member’s bill, meaning the MP introducing it is not a cabinet member, and as such it stands a lower chance of passing than government-backed Public bills. Still, Private Members’ bills can help draw attention to an issue, and lead to legislation more indirectly. You can keep track of the bill’s progress over here.
Chapman told Sky News he hoped the bill would encourage the government to “take responsibility” on the issue.
“We’ve proposed that a similar legislative process [to laws tackling ticket touting] be brought forward to ensure that consumers can purchase gaming consoles and computer components at no more than the manufacturers’ recommended price, and that resale of goods purchased by automated bots be made illegal,” Chapman said.
In response to the Early Day Motion which has now been signed by a total of 32 members, minister of state for digital and culture Caroline Dinenage said officials are “discussing this issue with the trade association for the video games industry.
“We know that bulk purchasing through automated bots is a concern for some of their members who we understand are currently looking at any further actions they can take to prevent these behaviours and are working with their retailers to improve experiences for customers.”
The scalping of both consoles and graphics cards has hit the headlines over the past few months, and with console shortages set to continue long into 2021, the issue shows no sign of slowing down. At the end of last month Argos found a group of scalpers had managed to scoop up its PlayStation 5 stock before it was even officially placed on sale, while GAME played down a scalping group’s claim it had picked up 2000 PlayStation 5 consoles in one day.