The Nintendo Switch has been out of stock almost since the coronavirus lockdown began and you’d assume it was for the simple reason that it’s really popular and everyone wanted one – plus it’s manufactured in China where the problems began. But it turns out things aren’t nearly that straightforward. Rather than just being an ordinary supply and demand problem, scalpers have created a special bot app that searches the Internet for ordinary stock and instantly buys it up before ordinary people get a chance.
Website Motherboard claims to have traced ‘Bird Bot’ to a community made up of hundreds of people looking to make a profit from the lockdown and people’s innate need to play Animal Crossing. Some of the people on the Discord group are just trying to get a Switch for themselves but since Bird Bot is difficult to use it’s turned into a mixture of tech support and Nintendo fan club. The problem is rife in other industries, such as ticket sales and buying trainers, but the difference with Bird Bot is that it’s free. ‘I decided to make it as a joke, but I quickly realised just how powerful it could be,’ creator ‘Nate’ told Motherboard.
Where can you buy a Nintendo Switch in the UK? The only good news is that the use of Bird Bot is focused mostly in the US, on stores such as Walmart and Best Buy, and while the Nintendo Switch is still hard to get hold of in the UK the situation has improved in the last week or so, particularly for the Switch Lite. It’s the original, more expensive model that still has the most stock problems, thanks to the bots, but Argos seems to have some at time of writing, and still at a standard £280.