Examples of Damage Control in Gaming: The SNES Classic Preorder Conundrum

When Nintendo announced the SNES Classic Edition a month ago, there was a mildly optimistic feeling that they wouldn’t handle it like the NES Classic Edition, especially in America. As in, perhaps it wouldn’t be a struggle to obtain from anywhere both before and after the release. But don’t blame anyone for being overly myopic, as Nintendo themselves provided assurances that stock would be improved over its predecessor. They admitted it would only be in production until December, but at least they were telling everyone it would only be a limited-edition product this time. Yet that came crashing down when one key similarity was inherited from the last process: the preorder situation…or so it seemed.

As the system was going up for preorder at several retailers in multiple countries, and selling out quickly, no retailers in North America were doing the same. They posted listings to make several of us think they would eventually, though, while Nintendo of America made no comments on this matter. But that changed when Walmart decided to start preorders on, of all times, a Friday night. Preorders were available for a whopping 40 minutes, which made it appear as if Nintendo was telling the truth when they said more of these would be made. I also managed to get one shortly after seeing the tweet from Cheap Ass Gamer’s Twitter account.

It’s going to be hard to even have the opportunity to hold one like this.

Walmart cancelled several orders shortly after they were made, but it seemed they were isolated to those who ordered after the listing had been up for a half an hour. Those who got one early seemed safe, but that many of us were never certain our orders were secure says quite a bit about how NoA is handling this. This uncertainty turned to slight fear when some posted on social media and message boards that preorders were never intended to go live, and that all orders would eventually be cancelled. The fear died back down after the orders remained up for a few days, and how the authorization charge remained on our accounts.

Unfortunately, the world soon came crashing down for all of us that managed to preorder.

It was yesterday afternoon when Walmart started sending out emails in batches saying all the orders would be cancelled. And those who were in the group that thought they were spared after checking their emails and seeing how they didn’t receive one were merely among the second batch. Walmart claimed the consoles went up for preorder due to a “technical glitch,” ahead of the official release date on September 29th, and apologized for the inconvenience. It might have been a mistake, but it comes as a biting disappointment for anyone who wanted to obtain the system early the normal way, and get out of having to fight (perhaps literally!) for one this holiday season.

Man, what a load of crap.

Though there are reports going around suggesting Target could start taking preorders soon, the way Walmart mentioned how they accidentally made the console available for sale before its release date implies few stores will officially engage in this process. They could be as limited as they were for the NES Classic Edition, where only Toys ‘R Us and random GameStop stores provided them in America.

This is yet another time where it’s tough to be a fan of Nintendo’s products, as they often love to repeat the same problems despite fans in their sizable base expressing loud dislike for them — especially in America. Part of me is still hoping NoA will announce when preorders will start at multiple retailers, hope that first surfaced when the official website launched with a “Retailer info coming soon!” notice at the bottom. But as more time passes, the chance of this never happening increases. It’s like they’re going through painstaking effort to make this a massive headache.

Regardless of how the number of manufactured consoles will be an increase over the NES Classic, preorder campaigns from other countries and Nintendo’s reluctance to start one in America confirm that obtaining one will still be a pain. Retro consoles are big business, as both the readily available and constantly updated Sega and Atari iterations have proven despite their “quality” (though a good effort at an Atari system might be coming soon). But Nintendo is still incredibly hesitant to dip their feet too far into this pond…for whatever reason.

Though it seemed like this situation would improve last Friday, the SNES Classic situation in America isn’t looking any better than it did before, and NoA has been eerily silent on these matters. Part of me is still clinging to hope that they’ll address this soon after fan demand, but situations like this make it sometimes painful to be a fan of Nintendo’s products.

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