Nintendo announced that the SNES Classic, a modernized reproduction of its 16-bit console, will be available for pre-order in late August.
Nintendo has long recreated and repackaged old products to appeal to its customers' nostalgia. That business model reached its peak last year with the NES Classic, which shrank the venerable Nintendo Entertainment System, gave it an HDMI connector, and filled it with some of the original console's greatest titles. (More on the NES Classic in our hands-on.) There was just one problem: It was almost impossible to buy the darn thing.
The NES Classic was perpetually sold out at pretty much every retailer. Nintendo pulled the plug on the product not long after it debuted, leaving people with the option of missing out on the device or buying one from a scalper. (Editor's note: Industry folks spotted just two of them at the huge computer hardware market in Taipei during Computex in early June.) When the company announced the SNES Classic in June, many feared that the device would suffer a similar fate, leaving hopeful buyers high and dry come the holiday shopping season.
Those concerns were exacerbated when Walmart mistakenly opened--and later canceled--SNES Classic pre-orders in late July. The retailer had accidentally let people order the not-quite-console from its website before the official launch date. People scrambled to get their hands on the device, only to find out a few days later that Walmart didn't plan to honor the pre-orders. The waiting game was doomed to continue.
That should change later this month. Nintendo said on Facebook that it plans to open SNES Classic pre-orders "late this month." The company said:
We appreciate the incredible anticipation that exists for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition system, and can confirm that it will be made available for pre-order by various retailers late this month. [...] A significant amount of additional systems will be shipped to stores for launch day, and throughout the balance of the calendar year.
That should help soothe fears that the SNES Classic will be impossible to find this holiday. But it's worth noting that we don't have a baseline--a "significant amount of additional systems" merely indicates that demand for the SNES Classic was greater than Nintendo originally anticipated. Saying the supply will also be available "throughout the balance of the calendar year" could also imply that the miniature console will be short lived.
Therefore, if you're planning to buy an SNES Classic, either for yourself or as a gift, you might want to keep your cursor over your browser's refresh button. Nostalgia is a powerful motivator, and an $80 console filled with classic games is all but guaranteed to go quickly. Check out our report on the SNES Classic's announcement for the full list of games Nintendo plans to bundle with this shrunken throwback when it debuts later this year.