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Sony Corp. has created one of the hottest gadgets of the year in the PlayStation 5, but its launch has been marred by scalpers who are buying up scarce supplies and threatening the long-term health of the company’s most important product.

Scalpers, who buy devices at retail and then resell at a higher price, have long been a challenge in the video game business. But the problem is particularly acute this year because the coronavirus has squeezed production and pushed more console sales online — where scalpers are using sophisticated bots to buy up the PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox.

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