When I last wrote about the Super Nintendo (SNES) Classic in late June there was plenty of reason to worry that Nintendo would botch this as badly as they did the NES Classic, even though Nintendo has insisted that they are producing “SIGNIFICANTLY MORE” than the time before. Regardless I outlined many reasons “significantly more” would not be enough. For your convenience here are those bullet points.
1.) The high dollar value of the games on the SNES Classic when sold individually leading to high demand for a unit with all of them combined.
2.) The inclusion of the never before released Star Fox 2.
3.) Some of the games included don’t work in flash carts and are very difficult to emulate properly.
4.) Everybody wants to relive their childhood without the hassle of a CRT TV set-up.
5.) Nintendo has a very poor record in general of making enough of anything to meet demand.
At the time many people would have said I was sounding the alarm too early and things would not turn out nearly as bad this time around as they did on the NES Classic. That would have been fair given that at the time I wrote it the SNES Classic hadn’t even gone up for pre-order on any of the major retailers in the United States. That all changed on July 21st when very late in the evening, a point by which many people were already asleep, Walmart put the SNES Classic up for sale. Despite the late hour and many people not putting out the word, including some who promised to do so the second it went on sale, Walmart’s website was still bombarded with hits and their entire allocation of stock sold out in 30 minutes. That’s right. It sold out in a half hour on a Friday night. Still not concerned?
The good news for me is that a long time reader of the site (thank you Mike) saw my previous editorial on this topic and generously offered to build me a custom Raspberry Pi enclosure with HDMI output that would function (but obviously not look) like a SNES Classic. He asked for no endorsement of his build nor did he request that I review it, but I’m in the process of filming a review right now and so far I’m pleased with the results. It takes a little bit of trial and error to get what you want to work how you want though, which has always been the appeal of a device like the NES or SNES Classic — it’s plug and play. You run the HDMI from your TV to the box, plug in a controller and a power supply, and the games are already loaded and ready to play. You’re done. No fuss, no muss.
Other retailers have yet to follow Walmart’s lead and put the SNES Classic up for pre-order, but hopefully if they do they will learn from Walmart’s mistakes and handle it a little more smoothly. On the other hand there’s every possibility that if any retailer gives people advance warning, scalpers are just going to rush in to buy all the stock, and if they DON’T their website is just going to be carpet bombed with traffic the moment word gets out and everybody rushes in. It’s potentially a no win situation. It might be possible that the only fair thing to do would be to not allow pre-orders at all. Every retail store gets an allocation based on the size of their local market (a city of a million gets a few thousand spread out between Target, Walmart, Best Buy, et cetera while smaller cities get smaller allocations) and you just have to show up on release date to get one.
In theory this would work great. If they shipped ENOUGH you wouldn’t have to get in a line at four AM and wait – you could just pick any random retailer and go that morning. Unfortunately that’s why I and a lot of other people have learned to pre-order — NINTENDO NEVER SHIPS ENOUGH and there is ALWAYS A 4 AM LINE at every store. Keep your eye on the latest stock so you can avoid camping out yourself — or build your own emulation station and skip the hassle altogether. Your call.