Today saw the launch of the SNES Classic and customers who missed out on getting a pre-order online were out early to see if they couldn't get a SNES Classic in-stores. A lot of customers were nervous given last year's NES Classic was, let's just go with "a disaster." Luckily for customers, the situation this year for the SNES Classic seems to be a marked improvement at first glance. At least that's according to customers who went out for both the SNES Classic today and NES Classic last year.
Despite some issues earlier this year with pre-orders for the SNES Classic getting cancelled at Walmart after days of miscommunication, the actual in-store launch for the SNES Classic appeared to have run as well as anyone could have hoped for. Yes, some stores still sold out of consoles within the hour, and not everyone who woke up early to go to their nearest Target or Walmart was going to get one.
Nevertheless, compared to last year's NES Classic launch which saw woefully understocked stores deal with lines of people, Nintendo appeared to have learned some valuable lessons for this year's SNES Classic launch.
We reached out to a couple customers who were present for the launch of both consoles, and while not everyone came back with the SNES Classic, it seems from their testimony to have been a better experience of varying degrees of success.
"Way better," wrote user iNick20 when I reached out to through the miniSNES subreddit (one of the dedicated subreddits to Nintendo's retro consoles). "I had to get up at the crack of dawn for the NES Classic, Wait in line and hopes I get one with an second controller [sic]. I did btw." Things were apparently easier for iNick20 with the SNES Classic launch. "Well with the SNES, I pre-ordered at [GameStop]. Woke up today at usual time... Calmly went down to GS at 10:30, asked for the SNES... I was in and out within no time."
One user by the handle of PeterTeePee said that both times shopping for the NES Classic and SNES Classic was relatively painless for them having made it to the New York City Nintendo Store and a local Target for the NES Classic and SNES Classic respectively. Both times they walked away with a console which is pretty lucky.
Another Redditor named jabettan likened the two ordeals in terms of laboring over different types of lids writing, "The best comparison I have is the struggle of opening a bottle cap vs a 200lb welded manhole cover. One is just a tad inconvenient and friends can help out. The other is just pure torture and nothing but blood, sweat, agony and highly specialized tools will get you what you need."
I was later contacted by Erik W. aka soulctcher, who is the main moderator for both the miniSNES and miniNES subreddits. He told me his experience of both launch days as observed through his own launch day and from the commenters on the subreddits he moderates. "[S]ince I have moderated both subreddits dedicated to these two micro-consoles, I've had a chance to see the experiences are throughout the world." On the NES Classic, Erik told me that, "Due to the circumstances of the NES Classic's release, stock was much lower at launch, and demand easily out-stripped it. There were lines at nearly every major retailer expected to carry it that far exceeded each store's stock."
For the SNES Classic launch Erik found that the situation wasn't as dire. "Personally, I was able to procure one during Best Buy's 1am Eastern pre-order opportunity on the website on August 29th... Overall, although some people are still walking away empty-handed, I'd say that this was a major improvement over what we saw previously, and most people are generally happy with the launch from Nintendo. But there's always room for improvement!"
Erik also mentioned that there were "anecdotal reports of some retailers, many south-Floridian Walmarts, without stock," likely referring to the recovery efforts that are ongoing after Hurricane Irma. Overall Erik tells me based on the activity of the subreddits that "there's general consensus that stock numbers far exceed what launch was for the previous console."
Unfortunately, while some of our own readers weren't lucky, it seems that Nintendo followed through for the most part to make sure the SNES launch day wasn't as bad. One person I spoke to on Reddit even suspects that the resale market for the console won't be as bad as the NES Classic given the way the SNES Classic launch has gone.
So, if you weren't able to get an SNES Classic today, maybe it won't be so bad as shipments for the console continue to rollout through the holidays.