Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3090 graphics card launched earlier today, and despite promises from Nvidia that its store would be more secure after bots snatched up most of the RTX 3080 launch stock, the reseller bots seem to have struck again. Within seconds of launch, the cards sold out across all major retailers, with some disappointed would-be customers taking to Twitter to complain about the suspiciously fast purchases.
For a brief moment I saw one 3090 on newegg switch to "in stock" but the second I added to cart, it removed from cart and went back to out of stock. 3080 launch all over again which we kinda saw coming. lameSeptember 24, 2020
Even professional tech writers had difficulty buying the cards. PC Perspective writer Josh Walrath said he and 7 of his co-workers all coordinated to try to get 3090s the instant they went live. Walrath saw five cards become available and instantly added them to his cart, only for them to get removed just as fast due to no stock being available.
We had about 8 people from my work all coordinate to attempt to get these cards for our ML endeavors. No joy. I saw 5 cards become available and added instantly. Removed from cart due to no stock. Those bots are fast. https://t.co/7D5sSjkpdVSeptember 24, 2020
The culprit here seems to be, as with the RTX 3080 launch, bots run by scalpers. In fact, the only place you can buy an RTX 3090 right now is the secondhand market, with eBay “pre-order” listings reaching as high as $70,000.
That’s a ridiculous markup over the official $1,500 price, of course, but there’s also plenty of "more reasonable" listings that are running closer to anywhere from $3000 to $6000. A lot of these are up on stockX, a site primarily known for aftermarket designer sneaker sales. Which makes sense- most of the more common scalper bots you can find right now come from the sneaker market, which portends a dark future for tech if they take over here as well.
When the RTX 3080 launched to a similar immediate buyout, PC Mag reached out to bot group Bounce Alerts, who initially hail from the sneaker market and had members admitting both in private and on Twitter to using the service to buy RTX 3080s.
“Our job at Bounce Alerts was to ensure our customers were able to purchase the product for their needs,” the group told the publication. “When given the chance, I’m sure most people would purchase more than 10+ units if they have the capital and look to make upwards of $25,000+ in one single day from [the] secondary market.”
Bounce Alerts charges $75 a month for membership, which is fairly standard among sneaker bot groups. Bigger players in the market, such as Cybersole, charge £300 for your initial six months of service (with a £100 renewal fee required every six months afterwards). With such high membership prices, there’s clearly a market for...buying things, with most of the biggest bot services running Twitter accounts where they mostly retweet customers who freely admit to scalping.
profited $1500 in 5 minutes with @BounceAlerts unreal 🥵September 24, 2020
The lack of shame here might surprise tech buyers, but botting has been a standard, if contentious, practice in fashion and entertainment for a while now. In 2017, Ticketmaster sued Prestige Entertainment for allegedly using a bot network to buy 30,000 Hamilton tickets before anyone else could, and there’s a thriving ~19,000 member sneaker bot subreddit with a comprehensive guide on how to set up bots and work around verification systems like Captcha. They even have their own slang- cook groups, for instance, are the discord servers where botters gather and trade tips.
Most of the bot services I could find, like KodaiAIO and Project Destroyer, don’t currently list major tech websites like Best Buy, Newegg or Nvidia as being supported yet. Instead, their official pages seem to still be focused solely on sneakers. They’re also all closed off to new members right now. But with this being the second new graphics card to sell out suspiciously fast at launch, and two console pre-orders also having met similar fates since the RTX 3080 debacle, it seems like the scalpers might have their eyes set on more than sneakers now. Some gamers are turning towards open-source bot solutions of their own to fight back, but even that foretells a troubling future.
It might not be long until having a bot is mandatory if you want to buy tech products at launch, even if you don't intend to resell them. Which means that people who don't want to use the either expensive or finicky bots will have to buy their goods at a markup for at least for the first few months after release. Yeezy fans already know this pain, and even if a few lucky souls are still able to get the new best graphics cards at launch, Nvidia fans could be joining them soon.
We’ve reached out to Bounce Alerts, which is the only bot service we could find that claims to have helped its members buy RTX graphics cards, for comment. We’ll update this story with more information as it becomes available.