For me, “scalping” is a term that draws a picture of fantasy violence of those who would raid other countries and towns for conquest that one would read about in a medieval fantasy novel. This idea of taking the hard-earned resources of others without proper cause is inherently unfair and leads to an idea that can be translated to our society today, in that we should never take resources by force, especially if we do not plan to use them properly, as can be seen in the following idea of scalping.
Scalping in the modern sense refers to the buying out of the initial stock of an item that is in high demand, only to resell it immediately after. The item is normally sold at an exorbitant price, but since the seller is the only person who has this item, some people are willing to pay the price just to have the item sooner. This practice can be seen in several fields and with many different items, such as reselling Apple products or in-demand shoes for example. However, one of the industries seeing scalping is that of graphics cards, specifically the new line of Nvidia graphics cards that have just hit the market.
Scalping is currently an issue with all three of Nvidia’s newest line of cards, the RTX 3070, 3080, and 3090. These cards boast a new Ampere architecture, more virtual RAM on the cards themselves, and the ability to support the new RTX technology. RTX enables a real-time ray tracing technique that greatly enhances lighting, shadows, and reflections in video games, creating a vastly improved graphics experience for the player. Each of these three cards launched on different dates and all have fallen prey to scalping.
All three of the cards were instantly sold out upon launch. This was to be expected with the release of a new card, however, potential buyers naturally became frustrated when they realized these people used bots to buy the cards so quickly, and then posted on Twitter bragging about their purchases. Plugins on Twitter had gotten 14 RTX 3080 cards instantly, which is unfortunate for those who wanted even one.
To protest this issue, several frustrated individuals put up fake listings on eBay for the new RTX cards. Wes Fenlon of pcgamer.com reports what he found on a listing titled “Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Render – Do Not Buy (Read Description)”. The description states that “…This is not a real GPU and will not work in your PC…PLEASE DO NOT PAY MORE FOR AN RTX 3080 THAN MSRP…Paying inflated prices only incentives the scalpers. Please be patient, wait for restocking of authorized retailers, and help the community dry up this grey market”. Even on the listings for the truly inflated cards, there are several one-star reviews expressing the community’s distaste with the practice. The only good news about this issue is that the community is actively doing everything it can to stop this practice.
As reported by Michael Kan of pcmag.com, Nvidia says that “To stop bots and scalpers on the Nvidia store, we’re doing everything humanly possible, including manually reviewing orders, to get these cards in the hands of legitimate customers”, which is certainly a step in the right direction. It was also said by pcmag.com “that Nvidia and its manufacturing partners are shipping more units every day to retailers… [and that] The retailer Newegg also refrained from selling its entire RTX 3080 stock on day one”. This is certainly a step in the right direction, and if customers practice patience and stay calm, they should easily be able to obtain a card in the distant future.
It is unfortunate that we must deal with this practice today, but with the rise of technology comes the addition of new ways for people to exploit it. This practice should not be encouraged, and the best thing that we can do as consumers is to not give them money. With enough restraint shown, it is possible that while the scalpers might not disappear completely, we can reduce their numbers in the coming years so that this is no longer a recurring event.