When Nintendo released the NES Classic in 2016, the reaction was unsurprising: supply of the device, like any Nintendo product, was incredibly constrained. Production runs were so limited that the aftermarket price more than quintupled. When Nintendo announced a Super NES Classic, I was doubtful they would address the demand any better. This was doubly frustrating, because while I was interested in many of the titles on the NES Classic, I was head-over-heels for the game selection on the SNES Classic. I pored over many of them in my youth. Several of my all-time favorites are included in the SNES Classic line-up, and not one feels like filler. It also includes the very first release of Star Fox 2, a game that was finished but shelved.
Nintendo promised significantly better stock of the SNES Classic, but I doubted the claim. While the seemingly prudent thing to do would be take orders for as-yet unmade inventory, Nintendo instead simply promised that anyone who wanted an SNES Classic would be able to get one. Perhaps they would create enough to meet the demand. It didn’t matter. I had no intention of tracking one down. Then, the night before the SNES Classic launch, something inside me stirred. The unholy combination of accurately emulated Super Metroid, Final Fantasy III, A Link to the Past, and Yoshi’s Island awoke a craving in me. As I drove to work on September 29th, I realized I had to have one. Nintendo’s promise of higher availability would be put to the test.
My day job takes me all over the place, and on SNES Classic launch day it placed me in Evanston, Illinois. The small city happens to have a Best Buy right next to a Target, making it a prime location to purchase the hardware I sought. Even if one was sold out, the other might still have some in stock. I took an early lunch and arrived at the Evanston Best Buy at 10:45. No luck; every model in stock was spoken for and in the process of being rung up. I swiftly walked to the Target, only to learn they had sold out just moments after opening.
I vented my frustration, which I still feel is valid, to my fellow PSTPers: it wasn’t simply that I didn’t get the SNES Classic on day one. It’s that I had to rush out and try to grab one at the first opportunity, that I couldn’t just order one online or in the store and pick it up later. I wasn’t opposed to the idea of waiting, I was annoyed by the fact that I had to actively search to find one, and still came up empty. By the time I’d get an opportunity to check more stores, they’d all be sold out.
I was fortunate that other members of the Presstartoplay crew were able to secure a Super NES Classic for me, but they shouldn’t be so hard to obtain. Amazon held their entire stock to promote Treasure Trucks, leaving customers with pre-orders to wait weeks without news of shipment. Retailers are trying to bundle otherwise unsellable merchandise with the consoles and sell them at obscene markup.
The Super NES Classic is a lot of fun, and I’m incredibly thankful that Christina was willing to go through a lot of effort I wasn’t to help me get one. That doesn’t change the fact that most electronics companies are able to accurately gauge demand, maintain production, and make sure everyone who wants to give them money can. Until then, Nintendo isn’t a hardware manufacturer or a game developer. They’re a collectibles company, and I am not a collector.
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