The shortage of Nintendo Switch consoles plaguing North America right now is thought to be driven, in part, by an automated bot that snaps up consoles the moment they come back in stock.
As Motherboard reports (thanks, VGC), the new open-source "Bird Bot" has spawned a new community in which users either looking to capitalise on the shortage or just get ahold of a system for their own use are sharing tips and tricks on how to snap up the handheld device the moment they go back on sale.
"I decided to make it as a joke, but I quickly realised just how powerful it could be," Bird Bot creator, Nate, told Motherboard. "Me and my friends were talking about reselling Nintendo Switches, and at one point my friend, nicknamed Bird, told me I should make a bot. And here we are today."
While there are many similar bots available, this is reportedly the first such automated bot to specifically target Nintendo's handheld system, and it's unusual in that it's entirely free to use, too. It's subsequently built up a Discord community of over 1000 users in which many are sharing images proudly showing off their multi-buy successes.
The scarcity - which has come about partly due to the overwhelming success of Animal Crossing, as well as an uptick in demand as players are forced to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic - has since had a knock-on on prices, too, with some resellers making a considerable mark-up on consoles, particularly the Animal Crossing-themed bundle, for which some sellers are doubling the price.
As Emma recently reported, it's worth noting that even before social distancing became the norm in the UK, supplies of the Nintendo Switch were inconsistent: but the coronavirus pandemic has made the situation far worse. Stocks of fitness game Ring Fit Adventure have met a similar fate, having been sold out for several weeks before briefly reappearing on GAME's website last week. Emphasis on the briefly.
Nintendo Switch recently hit the big version 10.0.0 via a new firmware update. It contains the long-awaited option to move game data to and from an SD card, an option to remap controller buttons, plus "some lovely Animal Crossing icons".