Anyone who’s been after the gaming industries’ supposed ‘must-have items’ in recent years will be familiar with online scalpers. The complaints lodged against them have been many and recurring, not to mention often justified; equally justified, however, has been consumer disappointment in those companies that should be fighting such unscrupulous practices. Whether the target of that disappointment have been industry icons, such as Nintendo and long-standing rumours of their artificial product scarcity, or online retailers who do nothing to stop unscrupulous resellers hording supplies of desirable items, there’s been precious little any can do except wait for eventual restocking (if it ever comes) or to grudgingly pay the inflated prices resellers demand. Now, however, it seems things might be moving in the right direction if Amazon is any indication.
The following screenshot has been making the rounds on various news sites. Originally posted by Neogaf user Blam, there’s yet to be any statement from Amazon outright denying its validity:
(Better resolution available here: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1400955)
Unfortunately the SNES Mini is currently listed as ‘Out of Stock’ on the Amazon UK site. Customers currently have no method of checking whether order numbers are limited. However, Amazon has faced enough backlash over their past inaction against scalpers to make such limitations a sensible move. In January 2015 MyNintendoNews reported a wave of discontent following 3DS XLs being resold for $400+ on the site, complete with a flurry of negative reviews. The Amiibo interactive toy line has also been a target for online scalpers, with some popular figures such as Marth or the Animal Crossing villager selling out in a matter of minutes on Amazon only to reappear from other sources, once again with an increased asking price.
Nintendo in particular seem particularly vulnerable to the predations of scalpers. Why this is so remains the subject of debate; one school of thought claims that the nostalgia and mass appeal of Nintendo’s products, particularly its re-releases such as the upcoming SNES Mini, simply makes consumers more willing to pay the resale prices despite their unreasonable nature. Others see a more sinister motive, accusing the company of manufacturing product scarcity in an effort to drum up demand. This second point has been debated back and forth at length, and was at least relevant enough for the Financial Times to publish an article describing investors’ fears over just such a scarcity prior to the Switch launch.
Ultimately, this is a discussion for a different article. The point remains that it’s no surprise a Nintendo product seems to have been the catalyst for this change. It certainly adds legitimacy to the supposed email’s claims, and we can only hope other desirable items begin to receive the same protections.
It’s too early to say definitively whether the pendulum has begun to swing away from online scalpers. The evidence thus far, however, is promising. Amazon is not the only company that seems to be finally listening to the consumer base’s complaints; only yesterday Ebay pulled numerous listings for the SNES Mini from their site. If the email Blam received is genuine, then it at least confirms Amazon means what it says when it makes claims about understanding customer frustrations with not being able to get hold of such in-demand releases. What further measures they’ll take to allay those frustrations is anyone’s guess.
At age seven, Jordan wanted to be a paleontologist. That went well. He now fills the void by writing on all manner of mildly-interesting topics - when he finds time in between complaining how everything was better in the 'good old days', that is.