There are hordes of eager fans willing to line up for a chance to purchase an SNES Classic (online or in real life), and Nintendo stoked the flame today with an announcement that pre-orders for its newest retro console will go live later this month.
“We appreciate the incredible anticipation that exists for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition system, and can confirm that it will be made available for pre-order by various retailers late this month,” Nintendo wrote on its Facebook page.
“A significant amount of additional systems will be shipped to stores for launch day, and throughout the balance of the calendar year.”
Our first piece of advice to anyone who wants to buy an SNES Classic is that they should expect to pay 2-4x the actual retail price, whether buying from a scalper or otherwise. Companies like GameStop are going to bundle the hardware with controllers or accessories to drive the price up any way they can, and while they may offer a small number of ‘naked’ systems for sale, don’t be surprised if bundled deals are far more prominent.
Meanwhile, scalpers are going to push eBay prices into the stratosphere, on the well-founded expectation that Nintendo will pull yet another bait-and-switch, trumpeting its platform before suddenly killing it off with millions of customers still unable to buy the system. We’ve already seen stores offering unofficial pre-orders on sites like eBay, with list prices far in excess of the official $ 80.
Our second piece of advice, if you intend to score a system, is to take pre-order times extremely seriously. We’re generally completely against pre-orders and dubious on crowdfunding, but if you’re determined to try for the SNES Classic, pre-orders are likely your only chance to get one. I watched services like NowInStock.net for four months attempting to score an NES Classic, and never managed to get one. Every time stock appeared anywhere on the company’s trackers, it vanished again within minutes. The only people who had any luck were Amazon Prime Now customers, and Prime Now is only available in some metropolitan areas in the US. If you don’t live in one, good luck finding hardware through that route.
Our third piece of advice? Don’t buy an SNES Classic. Nintendo doesn’t deserve a dime for the way it shafted would-be NES Classic buyers. Promising to ship hardware for “the balance of the calendar year” is meaningless considering Nintendo’s record of broken promises regarding console shipments and the fact that sky-high sales of the NES Classic still saw that console killed off long before demand was met.
True, Nintendo could do things better this time around, but the company has given zero indication that this is the case. If it wants to change our mind, it could start by saying it will manufacture enough SNES Classics to meet demand, period, full stop. Anything less, at this point, is just an indication that the company plans not to change its own bad behavior.