Were you awake around 2 a.m. ET on Tuesday? Or perhaps around 4:45 a.m.? If you were, you might be one of the lucky few who happened upon the first chance to preorder Nintendo’s new miniature Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
The console, officially known as the Super NES Classic Edition, is a tiny, $80 version of the original Super NES. It comes with two gamepads and 21 games built in. One of those games, “Star Fox 2,” is a previously unreleased sequel to the classic game “Star Fox.”
As such, the Super NES Classic Edition is in ridiculously high demand – it’s the perfect marriage of nostalgia and low cost. And this is why it’s so incredibly frustrating that Nintendo’s making it so, so difficult to buy the system.
After preorders went live at Amazon and Best Buy in the early hours of Tuesday, they sold out within minutes. That left Walmart, Target, and GameStop – but when would those go live?
Later that morning, the thousands of people who wanted to preorder the console were on high alert. Nintendo didn’t respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, and it didn’t issue any statements on its social channels about Super NES Classic Edition preorders on Tuesday.
Around 1 p.m., preorders suddenly went live on Target and Walmart. Both retailers were quickly swamped – five colleagues and I tried buying the console only to hit checkout errors like the one above, even though those consoles were already in our carts. Those errors were never fixed, and subsequent attempts showed that both stores were sold out.
GameStop – the largest game retailer in the world – offered preorders in stores. Minutes after announcing as much, stores were mobbed.
- Chris Snyder/Business Insider
Alternatively, ThinkGeek, which is owned by GameStop, offered outrageously expensive bundles online.
If you were so inclined, you could’ve preordered a Super NES Classic Edition alongside a bunch of gaming tchotchkes – $140 was the cheapest bundle, while the most expensive was a ridiculous $330.
To be clear, this is a garbage proposition. Even in the least expensive bundle, you’re paying an extra $60 for what? For this junk:
That bundle sold out, as did the $330 one. Of course they did.
Maybe you were in the market for a “Super Mario Canteen” (that’s the NES cartridge) and a “Tetris Lamp” – who isn’t? Maybe you’re OK paying an extra $60 for stuff you otherwise wouldn’t buy. Maybe you’re not deeply offended that the largest game retailer in the world is bundling a low-priced nostalgia item with a bunch of overpriced junk you’d find in the discount bin at Spencer’s Gifts.
The reaction from fans on social media hasn’t been quite so positive.
These bundles for the nes/snes classic and the switch are atroicous and worth an unfollow
— timildeeps (@capcaveman19) August 22, 2017
— Kenny (@unrooolie) August 22, 2017
All of this might not be such a problem if the Super NES Classic Edition were an item being produced in perpetuity. Alas, that is not the case. Like the NES Classic Edition before it, the mini Super Nintendo is planned for a limited production run. Nintendo says it will guarantee production through the end of 2017 – meaning you have a finite chance to find one of these consoles before they become permanent collectors’ items.
The limited availability adds pressure, especially if you have a friend or relative or loved one who wants a Super NES Classic Edition for a gift this holiday season.
So why doesn’t Nintendo just make more? The Super NES Classic Edition is a small plastic box with a very inexpensive computer inside, and it’s clearly in high demand. Nintendo’s assuredly taking in massive profit on each unit sold, even at its low price of $80. Moreover, making more units would make it possible for everyone who wants to buy the console to buy it.
It’s these unanswered questions that make Nintendo look so bad in this instance.
It’s understandable when a company has a hard time keeping up with demand for a new game console, as Nintendo did with the Switch. Manufacturing the console is expensive and new, shipping takes time, and it’s risky to overproduce a product.
In the case of the Super NES Classic Edition, though, Nintendo seems to be intentionally limiting supply. Couldn’t Nintendo let everyone who wants to preorder the console do so, and then fulfill those orders? Yes, Nintendo could do that. Instead, Nintendo has chosen to rely on the preorder systems of retailers who aren’t prepared for the type of sudden demand that the Super NES Classic Edition has.
But don’t worry: You can still line up on September 29 when the console launches and try to get one in person.
If you weren't able to snag an SNES Classic today — don't sweat it. We'll have more available on launch day, in store, for walk-ins. pic.twitter.com/ZnAPVsB8Cm
— GameStop (@GameStop) August 23, 2017
Good luck with that.