Trying to buy an NES Classic last year was a nightmare, something that even Nintendo seemed to realize when it announced the SNES classic earlier this year, eventually releasing a statement that, in corporate speak, was the closest you're going to get to a genuine apology for all the time and effort people wasted just to buy a piece of nostalgia. But if the last 24 hours are any indication, Nintendo's learned absolutely nothing from the experience.
The first wave of pre-orders at both Amazon and Best Buy went up overnight—while I was sleeping. The Target and Wal-Mart pre-orders went up this afternoon—while I was waiting for a mechanic to finish administering an oil change to my car. I'm someone who spends way, way too much time on the Internet, and I somehow missed on every one of those pre-order slots. I didn't even get a crack at trying to buy one, I straight up missed it and they sold out.
On its own, a SNES Classic is only $80, but if I want to wander to ThinkGeek, I could pay as much as $330 for a crappy bundle. (Conspiracy theorists, GameStop owns ThinkGeek!!!!) ThinkGeek's not alone in exploiting bundles, but still.
This shouldn't be so hard to do. You ask retailers to flip on pre-orders at the same time, with a time and date announced in advance, so people have a reasonable expectation at being part of the lottery that is smashing reload on a web browser, in hopes they're one of the lucky ones. If it doesn't work out, at least you had a reasonable shot. You could feel like you tried, at least.
It's not a question of whether the SNES Classic will sell out and make a lot of money for Nintendo. That's a given. People will keep searching for one to buy. But it's frankly depressing to realize how many machines will be flipped onto eBay, lining the pockets of clever scalpers, rather than finding their way into the hands of the people who made Nintendo a household name in the first place.
I'm done. There will probably (probably?) be another wave of units available head of the SNES Classic launch next month, but what's the point? I want to play Star Fox 2 as much as the next person, but it's not worth all this. Given how many times we've all done this dance with Nintendo, it's easier to accept they've learned nothing—or, for crass and cynical reasons, continue to make their fans dance for financial amusement—and just move on.
It's on Nintendo to figure this out. The rest of us should stop playing along, and Nintendo should forfeit the right to complain about why people use emulators.