Scalpers and Collectors Battle over the SNES Classic Edition

Scalpers and Collectors Battle over the SNES Classic Edition

Reddit is aflame with moral conflict. Is all truly fair in love and capitalism?

For a product that's theoretically supposed to make everyone happy and tingly with nostalgia, the SNES Classic Edition is stirring up a lot of mean feelings. Retro gaming enthusiasts and resellers are already snarling at each other with their hackles up.

The price-flipping scene for the poorly-stocked NES Classic Edition isn't pretty. The now-discontinued plug-and-play system still averages a $300 asking price on eBay, and people are apparently buying them up. Unsurprisingly, despite Nintendo's promises to do better, people who intend to pre-order the SNES Classic are already making plans for all-night camp-outs at Walmart parking lots on September 28.

Thing is, these lines will be comprised of two kinds of people: Folks who genuinely want an SNES Classic (or want one for their kid(s)), and scalpers who intend to buy what they can and flip their "stock" for an inflated price.

No doubt Nintendo is inadvertently putting some kids through college.

The simmering conflict has already generated a lot of bad feelings on the Nintendo subreddit, which is casting a wary eye at the Flipping subreddit. In fact, r/Flipping already has an SNES Classic thread titled, simply, "$$$$." That says it all.

It needs to be noted that r/Flipping is simply a subreddit dedicated to buying low and selling high, a practice that doesn't necessarily involve scalping. Nevertheless, the news of the SNES Classic has attracted some scalpers, much to the chagrin of users who don't want to see the subreddit's reputation go down the toilet.

"Can we remove this post?" asked redditor "centurionchat." "I hate the title so much... and some of the content in here just makes us look bad."

"We only scalp because those idiots pay it," argues "elijahhhhhh." "It's a fucking emulator system, people have been 3d printing nes cases for raspberry pis for years that have unlimited potential. These are restricted to 30 games unless you mod it."

Sometimes the argument becomes too nuanced and complicated and I need to stop and carefully consider every angle presented.

"Let's not forget that Nintendo literally pirated their own game and resold it to customers," says "burneratat," referencing the controversy about Nintendo possibly selling a pirated Super Mario Bros ROM on the Virtual Console. "Mind-boggling."

"As much as scalpers are assholes, youre right," says "Noot_Scoper." "A fool and his money are parted easily. As long as there are idiots willing to throw their cash at anything, scalpers will continue to exist."

"Exactly. I'm not going to feel bad putting food on my table because it hurts some whiney soccer moms feelings to pay the going resale price on a hard to get item," returns elijahhhhhh. "I'm the one who stayed up late to pre-order or wait in line all night and drove all around town to get it. Not them. They wouldn't have to deal with me if they did."

But "montrayjak" argues "That mentality is equivalent to me buying every copy of Harry Potter, flipping it, and then telling people 'You guys are idiots, you know you could just download a PDF and print it, right? They've been selling you the same book for years!'"

And so on.

With pre-orders for the SNES Classic already selling out in minutes and systems already selling at hugely inflated prices, we're well on-track to see the nastier side of gaming nostalgia. Or, as "dijital101" puts it, "Capitalism isn't fair and you are owed nothing. There is nothing stopping you from putting into the same time and effort that a reseller does."

dijital101 is right: It isn't fair. But they and elijahhhhhh are simplifying and stereotyping the scalping situation by inferring all scalpers wait in line for hours to acquire product legitimately (many use bots to snipe pre-order pages, or have shady hook-ups), and that their clientele is "whiney soccer moms" who are apparently too stupid to just cobble together our own SNES Classic with a Raspberry Pi and a 3D-printed shell. As montrayjak pointed out, that's like buying up the entire stock of a new Harry Potter book, flipping them for an exorbitant price, then laughing at a bunch of young fans for not just downloading a .pdf. Besides, it's very easy to line up all night for an item and still go home empty-handed.

Not all scalpers acquire their stock fair and square.

It's not always about the experience. Sometimes it's about the product. I've played most of the games on the SNES Mini, but I still want to have it. Maybe I can share it with my brothers, or my niece and nephews. I'm not a soccer mom. I'm just someone who loves the SNES and appreciates its impact on the short, often tumultuous chain that is video game history.

At the same time, I acknowledge Nintendo's largely to blame for the scalpers' bold declarations. The NES Classic sold out so quickly, you can barely make the claim it even "hit store shelves." Then, seemingly the next day, Nintendo discontinued it. It's no wonder scalpers are gearing up to make a killing. Talk about an easy target.

"In the end, there was a short supply [of NES and SNES Classic Editions] because of some strange decision by Nintendo to not produce and appropriate amount to meet demand," says dijital101. "Would you rather only 'real collectors' bought them and there was absolutely no secondary market?"

I'd say, "Maybe Nintendo learned something about supply and demand with the NES Classic," but I'm not in the mood for comedy.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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