The SNES Pre-Order Debacle: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the RetroPie

This past week was a rocky week for Nintendo, at least among most fans and journalists. The controversy comes down to the wildly erratic launch of pre-orders for the upcoming SNES Classic (aka SNES mini as I still call it). If you don’t know, the SNES Classic is Nintendo’s followup to last year’s NES Classic but actually contains 21 good games you want to play as well as the never before released Star Fox 2. For a significant portion of gamers, the SNES represents the pinnacle of gaming including some of the best titles ever created including Super Metroid, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy 3, and A Link to the Past. It’s a staggeringly strong lineup and we get why it’s in high demand.

Add in Shadowgate and Blackthorne and we’d consider buying from the scalpers

Last year’s NES Classic at its time was also in high demand which far exceeded supply causing many gamers to miss out or possibly resorting to the soulless scalpers. Nintendo promised to learn from its mistakes, scarcity would not be an issue. It all sounded quite nice and, well, rather un-Nintendo (have you tried to buy a Switch lately?).

Well this week the pre-orders for the SNES went live, at least, we all think so. Sites like Amazon and Best Buy somehow opened up preorders in the middle of the morning and were quickly sold out due to automated scripts (aka bots) scalpers employ to grab products like this. Other sites like Target and Wal Mart apparently had minutes where supply was made available but they again were bought out by machines.

Are we fighting a giant chicken? Yeah, Star Fox 2 is going to suck, but we still want it.

Gamers tried in vain to find any additional supply. We chased any potential lead of Target perhaps offering new supply every half hour or sat and watched as Amazon reconciled listings curious if they were about to release a new offer. We too turned to bots to notify us of any potential pre order but, at least for now, it looks like most of us got the shaft.

It wasn’t long before ebay listings went live as those equipped with scripts or other means started to list their dozens of available SNES Classics at 4-5x the MSRP. Many gamers expressed the same frustration. We all want to give Nintendo our money, not these greedy SOBs that ruin it for the rest of us. But we’re out of options.

No one likes you and you should feel bad about yourself

What’s equally appalling is that, so far, it doesn’t appear as Nintendo cares. Like the NES Classic and the Switch, they will sell out their supply which from a demand perspective means they can pretty much guarantee their sales volumes by always leaving gamers wonting. They’ve even teased that the SNES Classic is a limited run not to extend into 2018. We get it, if we happen to see an SNES Classic in the wild grab it like it’s going extinct because it basically is.

So as Nintendo offers empty promises of abundant supply of this high demand to turn around and do what they always do and leave us to contemplate rewarding a scalper for being an asshat, we’re left with few options. Nintendo has created a desire for us to have a console to play these older games in device that hits us right in our nostalgic gut.

Left among the options of rewarding jerks or standing naively by believing Nintendo’s statements about supply that appear to be false like their release strategy for the last few consoles, it’s hard not to consider the third option. Yes, for a some time modders and freelance devs have been working quietly on emulators and means to play your favorite old school games and the latest incarnations of the RetroPie are pretty damn impressive. If push comes to shove, I’d rather spend my money making the retro box I’d want to play.

Instead of going through this song and dance again and again with Nintendo, maybe it’s time to just break the wheel.

That’s about right