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Penny Arcade cracks down on suspected scalpers in wake of lightning-fast PAX Prime ticket sellout

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This year's super fast sellout of PAX Prime tickets triggered a more rigorous examination of bulk purchases to identify folks who managed to thwart the ticket limit, officials tell Polygon.

Those who purchased more than the four sets allowed had their tickets refunded. Those tickets will go back on sale sometime in the future, Penny Arcade business manager Robert Khoo said.

While Khoo declined to say exactly how many people were impacted by the ticket cancellations he did say that it was "less than one percent of total orders." Those impacted by the refund were notified yesterday, Khoo said on Twitter.

Tickets to PAX Prime, the all-things-video-game show put on annually in Seattle by the folks behind Penny Arcade, sold out in a record six hours, according to a post on the official website dedicated to the sellout.

According to that post, the maximum number of sets of tickets a person could purchase was four. The average number of sets, which includes single-day or four-day passes, was 1.45 with only 2.1 percent of all people purchasing the maximum number.

Khoo said that after the tickets sold out he personally went through the ticket sales to identify suspicious activity that could potentially be linked to scalpers. Typically that meant people placing double, triple or more orders.

"I went through all of those those that had double orders and split them up into categories by level of severity," he said.

Of those four groups, he only canceled ticket orders and refunded money for the two most egregious categories. The worst case he spotted was someone who managed to purchase 300 badges through multiple orders, he said.

"We're just being more aggressive about enforcing the rules," he said. "We had a rule saying you can only order four sets, but in previous years we were pretty lax about enforcing them.

While the rule allows for a maximum of 16 tickets, he said even with this year's enforcement they still typically allowed people with 30 or less tickets slide. This year they decided to be a bit more aggressive then previous years because tickets sold out in record time, Khoo said.

"We wanted to make sure that we do what we can to maintain fairness," he said. "We really strive to make sure PAX is as good as possible and part of that is making sure the prices are reasonable and that the process for buying tickets is reasonable."

The decision to cancel and refund some ticket sales was met with some public indignation including tweets to Khoo and a thread on Reddit.

PAX Prime, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, continues to grow, despite the addition of PAX East in Boston starting in 2010 and PAX Australia this year. While Khoo said the team would like to keep PAX Prime in Seattle, the rocketing attendance may force a move from the city.

"When push comes to shove and it becomes too difficult to do PAX in Seattle I will have to look at other possibilities at some point," he said, "but not right now."