The Super NES Classic went up for pre-order today in North America. It was a disaster.
It all started at about 1 a.m. ET when pre-orders for the SNES Classic went live on Amazon and Best Buy. While most of North America was asleep, lucky night owls nabbed SNES Classics before they sold out. It took 30 minutes.
As the sun came up and people rubbed their eyes and squinted at Twitter while rolling out of bed, they realized what they had missed. And they were pissed.
After the absolute consumer nightmare that was the NES Classic, which suffered from major shortages until it was outright canceled before most hopeful buyers could purchase one, you would think that Nintendo would’ve learned an important lesson. Namely, have more product ready.
The same thing happened with the Wii, it happened with certain Amiibo figures, and it is currently happening with the five-month-old Switch. Despite numerous missteps by Nintendo to properly prepare for major releases — and even an acknowledgement and apology for NES Classic shortages — it appears the same thing is happening with the SNES Classic. Nintendo turned its latest Classic console into a white whale… again.
i’m genuinely uncomfortable with the amount of stress that trying to get an SNES Classic pre-order has added to my life
— twenty griffinteen (@griffinmcelroy) August 22, 2017
But later in the morning, hope began to grow again when Nintendo revealed more retailers would be putting up their own pre-orders today: Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, and GameStop.
The Four Horsemen.
A rumor spread that Walmart would start accepting pre-orders at 1 p.m. ET, exactly 12 hours after Amazon and Best Buy kicked off the SNES frenzy. As untold numbers of people refreshed their tabs over and over (including yours truly), tension grew.
The Walmart pre-order went live at 1 p.m. I was one of the lucky ones.
Less than a minute after the pre-orders went live, Walmart alerted would-be customers that the SNES Classic was out of stock. My coworkers cursed, and some cursed at me.
Nintendo before: “We’ve learnt from the NES Classic. There will be plenty of supply for SNES Mini”
Nintendo now: “We sold out in 2 secs”
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) August 22, 2017
Target and GameStop followed minutes later, but Target’s online store was rife with problems. Lots of people got most of the way through the checkout process just to suddenly be told that the SNES Classic was no longer available and their cart was empty.
Meanwhile, GameStop’s website was experiencing server issues, likely from the high amount of action from hopeful buyers.
Then, GameStop and its subsidiary ThinkGeek started selling pre-orders for the SNES Classic in special bundles, forcing people to pay for extra items that most of them didn’t want in the first place, like a Zelda-themed chess game. These bundles bumped up the cost of the SNES Classic from $80 to $100, or even $120.
It’s borderline unethical.
the new GameStop SNES Classic bundle involves you paying the lease for a month at the location you bought it from
— Wow, Bob Mackey! (@bobservo) August 22, 2017
Of course, within moments of pre-orders going live, eBay was flooded with SNES Classic resellers, marking up the throwback console by more than 300%.
Some scalpers were just fast with their clicks, some undoubtedly used custom scripts and bots to snag SNES Classics faster than humanly possible. Regardless, stocks were so low on these websites that scalpers will easily find buyers for their marked-up consoles.
Nobody can pretend that Nintendo is unaware of the demand that exists for its products, especially their Classic-edition consoles. Nintendo knows people want these things. But, yet again, Nintendo stumbles out of the gate, creating a stressful and disheartening aura around what should be a positive situation for both parties: people buying SNES Classics that they want to play and Nintendo making money from them.
But Nintendo still hasn’t been able to meet demand, even given a year to properly prepare after the disaster that was the NES Classic’s limited supply. It’s officially a pattern.
Instead of trying to buy an SNES Classic I’ve spent the morning being preemptively sad about not getting an N64 Classic next year.
— Joseph Scrimshaw (@JosephScrimshaw) August 22, 2017
Time and again, Nintendo has failed to meet expectations. People are rightfully angry. Suddenly, illegal game emulators look a bit more appealing compared to the stress of trying to grab a pre-order as quickly as possible, or being forced to pay up for a bundle or however much a scalper is asking for.
Nintendo fans are losing faith, and Nintendo brought it upon itself.