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Walmart is taking the high road by canceling SNES pre-orders, and other retailers should follow

by Ron Duwell | September 9, 2017

It’s been a few weeks since Nintendo and its retail partners totally dropped the ball on the SNES Classic Edition pre-orders. Opening at strange hours of the day, not having enough to go around, selling out after mere seconds, allowing third-party tools to exploit their sites, and ignoring bugs in their systems all led to a lot of justifiably angry Nintendo fans. These people feel that they have been shorted by all parties involved for the second year in a row, and they are correct for feeling that way.

War cries have since calmed down, but Nintendo would be foolish to think that its fans weren’t still harboring strong feelings of animosity that are just waiting to explode. Something has to be done. Nintendo is all out of ways to spin doctor its shortcomings like it did last year, and its reputation can only take a hit if nothing gets done. I mean, can you imagine the blowback if Nintendo were to come out and admit that it misread the market again?

Even the most faithful of Nintendo fans would have trouble defending the company at that point.

Thankfully, at least one party involved in this huge calamity has taken a proactive step in reconciling with the gamer crowd. Walmart has confirmed with Forbes that it will be canceling a large number of pre-orders for the SNES Classic Edition, stating that it will be going after only orders that were able to secure more than one.

In its email to customers and in its statement, Walmart assured those that scored multiple consoles that they would be getting only one when they ship on September 29. All consoles after that first one will be canceled.

Customers who recently pre-ordered the SNES Classic from Walmart.com will receive the console after it launches later this month. Because we want to make sure as many customers as possible have the chance to purchase this highly-sought after item, there is a one unit per customer limit on SNES pre-orders. We did experience a temporary issue which allowed more than one item per customer to be ordered. We emailed customers who ordered multiple units to let them know we plan to ship them one SNES Classic and that we’ve canceled the extra units they ordered.

Those that suffered cancellations, including the dregs of the Internet that cheated the system to selfish ends, will still walk away with a $25 gift card for their trouble.

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Walmart is smart in that it realizes this is supposed to be a happy occasion, and it is perhaps even smarter than Nintendo at this point. This SNES Classic Edition serves no purpose other than to bring joy to longtime fans, and the way all parties have gone about making it available has done just the opposite.Just look at Nintendo! once again tapping into our nostalgia when it pitched this device, has since gone silent on the matter, seemingly ignoring it and writing it off as another bum decision in a long history of bum decisions.

Just look at Nintendo! It picked at our precious nostalgia with the announcement, making us all excited, but it has since gone silent on the matter, seemingly ignoring it and writing it off as another bum decision in a long history of bum decisions.

I doubt we’ll ever get a response to the ocean of criticisms at this point. Keep ostriching, Nintendo. We see you doing it!

Walmart at least recognizes that this device serves no practical, long-term model for success. It’s a one-time purchase, limited edition device that won’t even be available after six months. Software will never be developed for it. DLC, warranties, and subscription plans won’t bring in additional bucks. The SNES Class Edition genuinely serves no purpose other than to deliver a little smile and a “Thank you for your loyalty over the years” to fans.

And yet, this stupid little emulation device has caused headaches across the board. For what? The profits from this thing can’t be that high, can they?

Whatever the profits made off of selling an SNES Classic Edition are, they definitely aren’t worth all of the negative PR they have caused. Nintendo has taken a beating over its incompetence, and online retailers have whittled away the trust of their frequent customers. Walmart, seeing that there is no proper end to this nonsense, at least decided to take the first step into making this right.

By canceling the pre-orders of scalpers and those that would ruin a good time for millions, Walmart is showing that it is listening to the angry waves of fans. There is nothing in the world that gamers hate more than being ignored. No doubt, Walmart came to the conclusion that the negative press surrounding the SNES Classic Edition would only swell to unbearable levels as the official release grew closer and closer, so it might as well just cut off one of the main critcisms at the source.

This way, Walmart can actually have the image of looking pro-active and could even score some praise out of this whole affair, which was supposed to be the reason the SNES Classic Edition exists in the first place. Who knows, maybe even Nintendo is working with Walmart behind the scenes, trying to fix this problem silently and without committing to any route to success.

That would be a leap of faith, but if other retailers, like Target, GameStop, Best Buy, and Amazon, started following suit, it wouldn’t be out of the question either.

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Canceling multiple pre-orders would be the first step to fixing this problem. If everyone has an equal opportunity to get one console, then there can be no complaints. One customer, one console. Simple as that.

After that, the next steps need to be proactive ones, decisions that address further predictable issues. Nintendo needs to stop running with its tail between its legs and re-assert its dates and availability. I’m not sure if I trust Nintendo anymore in regards to the SNES Classic, even if this information has already been cemented.

Nintendo needs to assure fans that retail stores will have consoles when they show up at 3:00 am to buy one. It needs to let fans know how many will ultimately be available, when second shipments will be heading out, and for how long they plan on producing these devices. If Nintendo is true to its word that this is, indeed, just a way to thank its longtime loyal fans, it needs to assure those fans that they’ll be able to buy one.

This deafening silent treatment it is showing now is disrespectful, anti-consumer, and weak-kneed. You messed up for the second year in a row! Own up and try to make this better!

And retailers need to buckle up and make a few changes. Surprise pre-order times help nobody. You need to make sure that your carts are only able to hold one of these products, and you need to make sure that orders can’t be placed by bots. The limited use of CAPTCHA is perfectly acceptable for checking whether or not a person is real for these high demand items. It’s no sweat off of your backs, and you certainly have enough funds to pay a programmer or two to implement it.

It’s not too late to fix this, and at least one retailer has already taken proper steps. Let’s work together to turn this negative into a positive, or else nobody is going to give the Nintendo 64 Classic Edition the time of day next year.

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Forbes

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Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...