The Problem with Preorders

This most recent fiasco of the Super Nintendo Classic Edition preorders sheds a light once again on the terrible problem we have in the gaming industry with preordering. It's a tradeoff we've dealt with for many years now, but it is changing drastically as physical media is slowly being phased out of the gaming industry in general.

So the first thing to say is that preorders are great for publishers and distributors. They are a great way to gauge how many physical copies of a game they need to send to each store requesting copies. But something curious happened a while ago. Several years ago, Gamestop started adopting a policy of basically only ordering a handful of extra copies of a new game beyond their preorder numbers. So it became a pretty common theme at Gamestop to walk into a store on release day, see a stack of games behind the counter, and if you asked to buy a copy of the game, you would be told that they didn't have any in stock. Despite the fact that you were looking at the game, they were sold out. All of those copies were preordered. Eventually, the "fixed" this by keeping the preorders under the counter or in the back so that you couldn't see them.

With games going more and more digital, even on consoles, these problems are becoming more and more rare. It's simple to go on Steam of the XBox Live store and buy a game on day one. They never run out of stock. But we've seen some big problems lately when it comes to hardware.

Poor Nintendo keeps getting hit by this. First was the NES/Famicom Classic. For some reason, Nintendo thought this would be just a little gimmick and only a few people would want one. They sold out nearly instantly. They sporatically got new shipments, but those also sold out nearly instantly. Eventually Nintendo opted to stop making the NES Classic, leaving TONS of customers who wanted the console out in the cold. And the reseller market has gone insane, with the $70 console selling for $300.

This repeated on a much larger scale with the Nintendo Switch. Although they've been plagued by component shortages (like Apple buying all of the NAND memory on the planet to begin production of their next iPhone), the demand for the Switch has far exceeded the expectations of Nintendo. 

And now there is the SNES Classic. The preorders happened in North America last week and sold out everywhere nearly instantly. Nintendo has admitted that they plan to make more of this model than they did the NES Classic. They also say that they limited the number of preorders so that they could have copies available in the stores on day one. So we will see if it ends up like preorders of old.

One of the ways this preorder culture has shifted with the onset of digital content is with the growth of Season Passes for DLC. But that's a topic we will cover on another blog entry.

So what do you think? Do you miss physical preorders? Do you still go to places like Gamestop for preorders? Or do you just get everything through Steam or the XBox/Playstation Stores? Do you use Amazon for your preorders? Do you think Nintendo is just unlucky, or are they being too conservative with customer demand for their products? Let us know in the comments below.


So before we get into the LCS playoffs, I want to tip you guys off on a major eSports event for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds over in Germany at Gamescon. Solos took place on Wednesday, Third Person Duos on Thursday, First Person Duos today, and Squads takes place tomorrow. Here's some links to watch the VODs.

Day 1: Solo Championships
Day 2: Duos Championships (Third Person) - Part 2 - Part 3
Day 3: Duos Championships (First Person)
Day 4: Squads Championships

LCS Semifinals! Two big matchups today. Can Team Dignitas or the Immortals be the first team other than Cloud9, Team SoloMid, or Counter Logic Gaming to play in an NA LCS Finals? We will find out!

Saturday August 26th @ 3pm - Immortals vs Counter Logic Gaming - Can CLG ride the momentum from last week's victory and take down Immortals? Or can Immortals break into the finals for the first time in their organization's history?

Sunday August 27th @ 3pm - Team SoloMid vs Team Dignitas - Can anyone stop TSM at this point in the season? Or will they steamroll their way into the World Championships? Can Dig pull out their biggest upset, or will they crack under pressure?

All of the ways that both of these games can be seen can be found on the LoLeSports website.