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PlayStation 5 Scalpers Aren’t Happy With Their Public Image – Forbes

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The Sony PlayStation 5 family of products.
The simple, joyful, act of buying the latest console – a twice-decade dopamine hit like no other – has become a rage-inducing misery in 2020 and 2021. 
Why? Because of scalpers who employ fast-buying bots to scoop up hundreds of consoles in the time it takes for your finger to press “order”. 
They are using increasingly sophisticated bots to do this and becoming more organised to spot opportunities, often working in large groups. For regular gamers who want to buy a console, this has caused huge frustration and anger towards scalpers who are profiting from reselling consoles at huge markups. 
But scalpers I’ve spoken with say their intentions are misunderstood and their negative public image isn’t justified. 
“There seems to be A LOT of bad press on this incredibly valuable industry and I do not feel that it is justified, all we are acting as is a middleman for limited quantity items.” said Jordan, who co-founded The Lab, a private group that advises paying users on how to scalp (known as a “cook group”). 
Jordan claims to have secured 25 PlayStation 5 units in January and resold them for £700. The most expensive recommended retail price for the PS5 is £450. This, he feels, is no different to how any other business operates. 
“Essentially every business resells their products. Tesco, for example, buys milk from farmers for 26p or so per litre and sells it on for upwards of 70p per litre. No one ever seems to complain to the extent as they are currently doing towards ourselves.” The backlash from angry gamers has led to death threats, Jordan claims, which have been reported to police.
I put Jordan’s analogy to some frustrated gamers who have been trying to buy the Sony console for weeks. One, who didn’t want to be named, said “he is deluded. He doesn’t get he’s another layer of profiteering in his own Tesco analogy. He’s not Robin Hood.”
Jordan’s success has been replicated by other users in The Lab. Jordan’s business partner, Regan, shared images of mass purchases of in-demand Supreme gear using a bot called Velox. 
The screenshots show that not only is the bot fast at checking out (the fastest is 2.3 seconds for a Supreme x Smurfs Skateboard), but it also manages to bypass 3D Secure to make the transaction happen.
Successful checkouts of Supreme gear using a bot.
3D Secure is an additional layer of security which verifies that the buyer is the legitimate card owner. It is a requirement in the UK for all websites processing card payments (if the payment card supports it). This usually redirects buyers to another site, which is owned by the bank, for authentication. But the Velox bot used for these supreme purchases bypasses the protocol for a faster checkout. 
I asked web security and performance consultant, Edward Spencer, how this bypass this works.
“I suspect the 3D Secure payments page is being by passed by using a card that has not had 3D Secure enabled. Generally, all cards provided by EU banks must have 3D Secure enabled. If you called your bank and requested that 3D Secure was disabled for your card, they’d refuse. So I would guess that they are using cards associated with banks that are from outside of the EU, and are probably pre-paid. The shops could probably thwart these guys by banning all non-3d Secure transactions”.
But there’s more to scalper success then bypassing 3D Secure. Another person I spoke with, who only wanted to be quoted as “Alex”, attempted to build his own bot to buy a PS5. But his was a website scraper that automated purchases, which, as Alex explains, isn’t quick enough. 
“There are bots that interact with servers, and there are bots that interact with the web browser – mine interacted with a web browser. So it can only go as fast as a website will let you go. It works faster than a normal human, but there are other bots that, you know, people would be selling for thousands of dollars that will beat my bot every time.”
He continued: “so I know, for Walmart, there was an open API for their stock. Some of these bots could add a PS5 to their shopping cart, and then they could purchase it from there.”
Alex is right that scalpers and cook groups are finding innovative ways to get stock before anyone else. On January 25th cook group Express Notify found a way to buy PlayStation 5 units from UK retailer Argos a full day before the official stock drop, ordering several consoles. Argos eventually shut down the loophole. 
Exactly how these bots bypass safeguards, or “interact with servers”, as Alex put it is a bit of a mystery. Spencer speculates that the creators of these bots have “sniffed” the web traffic between the web browser or mobile app of an online store, and the servers.
“Right now I can open Google Chrome and go to any online store, press F12 and I’ll get the developer tools up. All I’ve got to do is go to the network tab, and then maybe add a product into my cart , and observe how my browser is talking to the server that hosts the website. There will typically be network calls to an API running on the server that reveals information – in a computer and human readable way – about products and stock levels.
“So this API isn’t intended to be used by 3rd party developers, but a 3rd party developer could use it if they worked out how. It’s reverse engineering the online store’s API. This isn’t exactly sophisticated. Sites can mitigate this with tried and tested anti-request forgery techniques but unfortunately many sites just don’t bother.”
I contacted several bot makers and cook groups to ask how their tech works, but none were forthcoming apart from those quoted in this story. If you have any information you’re willing to share, then get in contact
The scalpers I did speak with operate as a business, in some cases with full time staff. Because of the potential money on the table, the scalpers employ a lot of techniques to gain an advantage over regular buyers and other bot users. Jordan explained that because of bot competition, he has to be vigilant of opportunities. 
“Our group monitors hundreds of websites waiting to notify members of restocks. The website I was able to get checkouts from was GAME, which the monitors notified us at around 10am GMT that PS5 stock had been loaded onto the backend of the website. 
“It is pretty simple to set up as all the top tier bots have in-depth guides or really simple interfaces. All I needed was the product ID, a few unique billing profiles and proxies (proxies allow us access websites from different locations whether it be country or city specific). We have this all in place ready before any restocks happen to give us the best chances of purchasing. If you are slow, even with a bot, you will miss out on the product.”
GAME issued the following statement in reply to Jordan’s claim.
“PlayStation 5s continue to be in very high demand and that demand far outweighs current supply. We have strong measures in place to help ensure that our “1 per customer” statement is maintained to allow for as many individual customers to successfully purchase as possible. 
“All pre-orders are subject to automatic checks and order updates such as cancellations following these checks take place after a customer will have received a valid order confirmation email.”
Jordan didn’t want to name the bot they used to complete the purchases, but they did say that “ you will have seen it plastered amongst the media recently due to the PS5 shortage.” In late January, the team behind a bot called Carnage boasted about helping users secure 2000 PS5s. The Carnage bot team could not be reached for comment. 
Both Regan and Jordan say that they are, ultimately, helping people by giving them financial opportunities to resell consoles at an inflated price. “I mainly just try and help others now, that’s all that really matters to me. The whole group came about near the start of the first UK lockdown and it makes me so happy that I can help people make some extra money for themselves. 
“We do a lot for charity as well. I myself or collectively as a group donate to charity almost monthly at this point. Most notably over the past month we donated a large portion of our membership fees to a foodbank local to me.” I asked for details of the food bank to confirm Regan’s donation but he didn’t provide their information. 
Employing the use of bots doesn’t guarantee a purchase of any hot ticket item, but it can massively improve your chances. What this means for the consumer is that the already limited pool of available product – which has been exacerbated by supply chain issues related to Covid – shrinks even further. Regan says this means average buyers will always struggle. 
“Your average person who just wants one of the consoles to use struggles to get close. A lot of these sites have very minimal or easy to bypass bot protection. They often release stocks at stupid times or without any form of schedule. A retailer I won’t name released stock of the PlayStation 5s in the extremely early hours of the morning. Which shows the lack of care on their part. The only people who will have known about those restocks will have been people with monitors inside of cook groups.”
Quotes in this story have been edited for length and clarity.

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PlayStation Making New PS5 Triple-A Online Game – TheGamer

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No details have been announced, but we’ve dug through the job descriptions to piece things together.
PlayStation's London studio is currently hiring a team to get development underway for an upcoming online PS5 game. Based on the job descriptions, it seems the project is in the very early stages of development, so we likely won't see a trailer or even a name for a while yet.
What we do know is that this will be "an ambitious AAA project," one that will likely feature co-op gameplay and potentially some procedurally generated levels. The job descriptions also point to this being a live-service title, something Sony is currently lacking. There is Dreams, but that isn't triple-A, and Genshin Impact isn't on Xbox, but it's not a first-party game either.
RELATED: How Can Sony Compete With Xbox's Activision Blizzard Buyout?
The available roles range from leads with shipped titles under their belts to juniors just getting started, and even one that requires no games industry experience whatsoever. Each role also includes a clear commitment to increasing diversity across the studio, something that appears sorely needed if the almost all-white team photo on the website is anything to go by.
Many of the job listings require experience with online triple-A titles for console and PC, Unreal or Unity game engine knowledge, and procedural environment generation. There's also relatively standard stuff like character artists and AI programmers, so we can expect to be interacting with NPCs in the game.
One requirement for the lead level designer was "experience designing for online multiplayer combat," but whether that'll be PvP, PvE, or a mix of the two remains to be seen.
Each lead is expected to help build their own teams, and the studio is also hiring for an internal recruiter, so it looks like these hires are just the tip of the iceberg for the new project.
The appeal of PlayStation has always been its exclusives, so if this upcoming game is any good it could help PS5 sales stay even further ahead of the Xbox Series than they're predicted to be already. Sony's stock value plummeted by $20 billion after Microsoft's ABK purchase, so seeing new games are being worked on – especially in a genre as profitable online live-service – could ease shareholder fears.
Next: You Don't Know Fear Until Your Engine Has Malfunctioned On A Dark Country Road In Euro Truck Simulator
The power of word of mouth.
Issy is an avid film lover, writer, and game-player based in the UK. He combines his love of film and games in his writing, trying to find as many connections between the two mediums as possible. When he’s not writing, playing, or watching, Issy loves to DJ and look after his growing collection of houseplants, as they make him feel more adult.

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The story on how John Madden came to be involved with wildly popular EA Sports NFL video game – USA TODAY

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If the creators of the NFL video game so many millions of people have played had their way, the wildly popular franchise would not have been known simply as Madden.
According to a story ESPN published in 2016, legendary coach and analyst John Madden was the third choice of Trip Hawkins, the eventual founder of video game maker Electronic Arts (EA), to be the pitchman of the game that eventually became Madden NFL. An avid football fan, Hawkins’ first choice was legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and former Vikings and Patriots quarterback and Cal Bears coach Joe Kapp.
Madden, who died at the age of 85 Tuesday, continues to be one of the game’s most prominent icons. He was first a player, though a knee injury in his rookie season in 1958 with the Philadelphia Eagles cut his career short. He went on to be the head coach of the Raiders, where he won a Super Bowl. He became a television analyst during NFL games and made the game accessible for millions of viewers. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2006. 
But it’s his constant presence on the video game franchise, arguably, that serves as his strongest connection to new generations of football fans and gamers alike.
OPINION: John Madden will live forever because his influence was so great
MORE: ‘The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer’: John Madden quotes that will never be forgotten
According to ESPN, Montana could not be involved because he had a conflicting endorsement deal with video game console maker Atari, while Kapp wanted royalties. According to the article, Madden was so impressed with Hawkins’ credentials — he went to Harvard and worked at Apple — that he agreed to sign on.
It proved to be a shrewd decision. Despite slow production and years of releases before it became a household name, Madden NFL has generated more than $4 billion since its inception and has sold more than 130 million copies, according to EA. Barron’s estimates that Madden NFL generates around $600 million annually for EA.
Still, Madden lamented one major mistake that cost him millions more.
According to ESPN, after “John Madden Football” was released in 1988, Hawkins approached Madden and said EA was about to have an initial public offering and that Madden could “have as much stock” as he wanted, though he would have to pay the initial price of $7.50 per share.
“Hell, I’m just a football coach,” Madden told ESPN. “I pointed with my finger, all knowing, and said, ‘I gave you my time. I’m not giving you my money.’ I showed him!”
In only the 10 years from 1989 to 1999, the price soared to $70 per share, according to ESPN.
Said Madden: “That was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life.”
Originally, the game was planned as being a seven-on-seven competition, due to the limitations of computing back when it was being initially programmed. Madden, however, balked at that idea and wanted the game — if he was going to appear on its cover — to be as authentic as possible. 
“If it wasn’t real football, I didn’t want my name on it,” Madden told Grantland in January 2012. “I wanted it to be real football — pro football — with the sideline, the numbers, the hash marks. Everything had to be pro football.”
One other unique aspect of the game is how the plays and formations users can call and execute are taken directly from NFL playbooks. Madden sent a 1980 Oakland Raiders playbook to Hawkins and former EA producer Joe Ybarra.
To elaborate on that, the game’s producers sought to mimic the playbooks of the teams featured in the game.
“For our playbooks, I would say to (former San Francisco Examiner beat writer and consultant) Frank (Cooney), ‘Go find out what a team’s five signature plays are,’ ” Hawkins told ESPN. “He would go up to the assistant coaches, hand them paper. And they would draw up plays! We collected a huge amount of plays that way.”
The video game franchise has evolved over the years to incorporate new game play modes and features, as well as tweaks to game play. Its reach across the NFL is comprehensive. Gamers within each locker room undoubtedly have their own copies and challenge each other during games. 
Even one of the game’s most reserved and self-controlled figures — and one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport — has his own exposure to the video game.
“I haven’t played it in quite a while,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday after he opened his press conference with a tribute to Madden. “When my kids were growing up, they would play it and I would watch them. They would beat me.”
Belichick grinned as he told that anecdote, likely thinking back on those memories with his children —two of whom, sons Steve (outside linebackers) and Brian (safeties), are assistants on New England’s staff.
Perhaps that’s the enduring legacy of the Madden NFL franchise. Similar to the way he used charm and humor in the broadcast booth to make the sport appealing to all, the video game allows even those without expertise in the NFL or even in football to simulate the strategy behind it.
“It’s a way for people to learn the game and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level,” Madden told Grantland.

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Blizzard's new IP: Modern meets fantasy online survival game – TweakTown

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Blizzard’s next big IP might be an interesting take on a Kid in King Arthur’s Court and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Today Blizzard confirmed it is working on an ambitious new IP. The unnamed project is a survival game that merges modern and fantasy together, as per details gleaned from a brief concept art glimpse. Job listings also confirm the new IP will be an online-based adventure which is Blizzard’s usual fare.
“Blizzard is embarking on our next quest. We are going on a journey to a whole new universe, home to a brand-new survival game for PC and console. A place full of heroes we have yet to meet, stories yet to be told, and adventures yet to be lived. A vast realm of possibility, waiting to be explored,” reads a job posting.
We’ve known about Blizzard’s new IPs for a long time. The company has been incubating this new IP and another unannounced multiplayer shooter for a while, and Blizzard is also trying to create a shared games engine to power its future titles.
Alan Adham discussed the new incubation pipeline back in August 2021:
“We’re tight-lipped about it, but our new game pipeline has been in development for many years and it’s greater than it’s ever been across our core franchises and mobile, new IP and new genres. I’m looking forward to our teams launching their already announced new games in the not-too-distant future and in due course announcing a few new ones that you’ve yet to hear about,” Adham said.
So what is Blizzard working on? Here’s a selection:
Derek Strickland
Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man’s Sky with the magic of VR.

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