Tired of scalper bots claiming all the RTX 3080 stock the instant it goes live? Want to pre-order the new best graphics cards without needing to pay a several thousand dollar markup every time they launch? Now some gamers are turning to bots of their own to pounce on RTX 3080 cards as soon as they're available, thanks to Reddit users u/anewchange (Ian Armour on Github) and u/lordhenry85. But know that if you choose to join them, you might be opening Pandora's box in the process.
"After the debacle that was the launch last week of the 3080 and the aggressive attempts by scalpers to resell 3080s," Armour posted to the Nvidia subreddit late Sunday evening, "I decided to take some time to write a tool to help interested buyers get their hands on one of the 3000 series GPUs."
Armour's bot works by continually monitoring the inventory status of RTX 3000 series cards on Nvidia's website and automatically adding one to your cart as soon as it becomes available. You can also configure the bot to send you SMS messages when inventory goes live.
Lordhenry85's bot, which they posted to r/pcmasterrace late Sunday as well, is similar but runs locally on their computer and simply posts inventory updates to Twitter under the name @BotRtx. It also checks a wider variety of stores, including Newegg, Nvidia, Amazon, B&H, EVGA and Best Buy.
Neither bot will actually complete a purchase for you, so you'll have to finish your order manually. But the idea is to give "normal people" a chance to fight back against scalpers. Reactions on Reddit were initially positive- one commenter on the Nvidia subreddit said, "fighting fire with fire, I like it." But both bots broke the rules of their respective subreddits, and have since had their announcement posts taken down.
Upon thinking a little harder about the bots, it's not hard to see why. Armour's bot is open source on Github and doesn't cost anything, while scalper bots run by organizations like Bounce Alerts cost a $75 per month subscription. It's not hard to imagine scalpers reverse-engineering bots meant to fight them and turning them into free tools for them to use instead. Which, in turn, could create even more scalpers.
But it's an arms race, given how quickly scalpers claimed all of the 3080 stock once it went live. Even the average person might have to get their hands dirty to try to buy exciting new tech products at launch now. Some creators are more cautious about escalating the conflict than others - the thought of making bots mandatory to keep up with the tech landscape is why lordhenry85 didn't make their bot available to download. But others are less optimistic about the future.
"Hey if you can't beat em, join em," Armour posted in reply to a Reddit comment on their bot. "And make sure everybody else can too."
I never expected graphics cards to be what led to Skynet. Or, should I say, Buynet?