The Feasibility of Purchasing Bots
Please note: all prices and statistics are based on data at the time of writing and may be different as of when you are reading this.
The reselling world is saturated. Every month we see new members joining the community, ranging from kids using their parents' credit cards to middle-aged adults interested in re-investing their hard-earned cash. Releases are harder than ever to hit on and reselling is fast becoming an activity that can no longer sustain someone as a full-time job purely due to the number of people attempting to pick up shoes on release days. The number of resources has grown exponentially too, with countless providers for everything ranging from Gmails to servers to proxies - and just recently we've seen an actual established and secure virtual credit card service created solely for botters. The mainstay of this ecosystem, however, and arguably the most valuable, is the bots. Countless bots exist, for every website ranging from large intercontinental shoe retailers to small skate shop boutiques operating out of a single store in a medium-sized city. If there's a website you're looking to purchase multiple shoes from, there's always going to be a couple bots that support it.
Bots are expensive. Bot owners realised a long time ago that they would limit the number of copies available of their software, both to allow their servers to function with manageable load and to create hype around their product in a similar way to the shoes they buy. The consequence of this is that bots gain value on the aftermarket and are harder to purchase at retail price than the shoes themselves when they restock - which is a rare occasion. For example, SoleAIO has approximately 4500 active keys, but has a following of almost 115000 followers on Twitter, each one of those accounts watching for a restock so they can get their hands on a copy. As a consequence of this, a renewal copy of SoleAIO will run you $1100, with the retail price by conversion costing $417. This is at the lower end of bot prices too - other bots can cost anywhere from $3000-7000, and recently a new bot came onto the market and set the record for the highest resale price of $24000; DragonAIO raised the bar and showed the community that bot resale price has no limit to how high it can go. Bot restocks are also impossible to hit due to tools such as ZenyScripts automating the checkout process for their users - those tools have aftermarket value too and are incredibly hard to come by at retail price. Let's not forget that bots also have renewal fees in order to allow their users to keep using the software, which can be pricey - SoleAIO's renewal fee is $350 (by conversion) a year (split into 6 month periods), equalling almost as much as the retail price for the bot, with some bots such as RushAIO asking for up to $1000/year renewal fees. As a newcomer it can be daunting entering a community where the entry price to success is forever increasing, and the upper echelons of this society are ever harder to reach. Now more than ever it seems like you need to shell out thousands on a new bot in order to be truly successful.
There is another option to purchasing bots however, and that is renting them. Many bots are able to be safely rented for any period of time requested, allowing resellers to use bots for a short amount of time without having to pay the hefty retail price for them. Taking SoleAIO, a week's rental of Sole can run you anywhere from $30-60, a much smaller price to pay than outright purchasing a copy. There are a few bots that cannot be rented, but the majority of bots are safely rentable, with some implementing a rental system for their users to rent safely with, whilst giving the rentee the best experience complete with Discord access for the rental period. Hypothetically, a beginner reseller with a bit of luck and practice could turn a week's rental that they paid $60 for into hundreds of dollars of profit. Suddenly renting seems like the better option, as rentees waive the expensive renewal fees and the initial eye-watering investment into the software. This is appealing to veterans as much as it is to beginners, especially if they don't own a bot for a specific website and only want to use that bot for a few releases. Purchasing bots seems obsolete at this point when you could have the experience and the means to make good money for a fraction of the aftermarket price.
So, what does this mean for bots? Will people cease to purchase them and instead opt for renting? Well... not really. Renting bots may be more kind to the wallet, but also has some problems that come with it. The biggest problem is that the bot isn't yours. Sure, you could rent the bot for a month and use it whenever you want during that period, but you will never have full jurisdiction over it. If there's a short notice or shock drop and you don't have a bot rented at that moment in time, you'll be missing out on it, whereas bot owners will be able to open it up whenever they want and hit the shock drops. This links into a smaller but just as annoying problem, which is quick tasks, a feature of many monitors where bots can be started quickly using links - something that for a rentee can be difficult to set up, and not all bots have the ability for the rentees to access this feature (for example, Cybersole requires access to the dashboard in order to setup quicktask functionality) . This means more restocks and shock drops missed out on, even if the rentee has access to the bot at the time. Also, renting a bot means you have the inability to reset the key at a moment's notice and will have to rely on the renter to reset at your request, so switching the license key to a different device can be a thorn in the side. Finally, renting bots means limited access to the guides and help that would come with the purchase of a license key to the bot. This can mean that a large portion of the rental period could be spent learning the bot and not making money with it, since botting can be a harsh gauntlet full of trial and error for those new to it. Whilst some bots, such as Polaris and AIOMoji, have systems put in place to allow rentees to have access to the Discord, most rentees will have to rely on the kindness of the renters to provide the guides for them, as well as tips and tricks usually posted before a release by the bot's staff.
Another good reason to own a bot rather than rent is the inherent value that comes with it. Unlike a car that depreciates in value after purchasing and using it, a bot’s value is based on factors external to the user and a user can usually sell on their license key and get back the same amount of money they put in. Also, the volatility of bot resell prices means that a new breed of person, the botflipper, makes money off fluctuations in prices; combining the purchase of a bot with information from your cookgroup’s botflipping team may allow you to make money just through the ownership of said bot before you have even used it, meaning you are guaranteed a profit when you sell it on. Because a rentee doesn’t own the bot, this will never apply to them. This can work against you, however, and bot resell prices can drop overnight, leaving you with a bot only worth $500 that you paid $1200 for the week before - however, this is very rare. Since bots are always improving, and one factor that affects resell price is performance, you could hypothetically sell the bot after a long run of success and have a return of a few thousand more than your initial investment, money that you made simply by owning the bot.
There's actually another way of profiting off bots without even using one. Slots, or autocheckout, is a service provided by almost all cookgroups and big members of the community, where certain experienced individuals will run their bots for others in return for a fee paid after a successful purchase. Botting can be a very expensive experience, with the bot price only making up some of the outgoing costs - to run a bot you need expensive peripherals such as Gmails, proxies and servers, all costs that can be mitigated by simply paying someone else to run for you. Slots can be expensive, with people charging up to $100 per success which can cut heavily into your profits, but you will always be turning a profit as slot runners will make sure their fee is well below the profit margin of the shoe. Also, botting takes a large amount of time, and some resellers may feel that it would be better to outsource the automated purchasing to allow them to do other things with their time, such as study or look after their family, whilst making profits from the shoes turning up to their doors. If you’re lucky, you could end up as a bulk slot buyer and receive cheap fees from a botter that you continually work with, meaning your shoes will always be bought with minimal effort and minimal capital input from you.
Overall, what we can take from this is that buying bots isn't something that will become obsolete anytime soon and relies on a majority of bots implementing the systems that bots like Polaris use to make rentals as informative as owning a license, with the rentees still having the problem of jurisdiction over usage. Renting is a sure-fire way for a beginner reseller to increase their capital without too much initial injection - but to really capitalise on the market, beginners renting bots should keep in mind the end goal of getting themselves to the point of buying their first bot. Slots from a trusted provider are also a great way to secure shoes, especially if you’re on a limited time budget. The pros do outweigh the cons here, with owning a bot currently being the best option for resellers to grow their revenue stream.