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'Super Scalpers' commander gaming industry

BY CONOR MCBRIEN | JANUARY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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The supply of new Nintendo products has not met the demand, as I am discovering the hard way.

I’ve been struggling to secure an order for Nintendo’s latest hand-held gaming console, the New Nintendo 3DS XL (yeah, I cringe at the name, too), which will be released in a special edition design inspired by the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, a classic Nintendo 64 game that has been remade for the 3DS and will release Feb. 13

On Jan. 15, the day of the item’s announcement, Gamers in the Old Capitol Town Center told me there was no guarantee my order would ship or that the product would even be carried at Gamers’ stores. I found myself part of a growing legion of disappointment and outrage, all screaming, “Shut up and take our money.” 

I can’t blame Gamers, though. Even major electronics retailers such as Best Buy and GameStop have had trouble with their stock. GameStop, 1011 Highway 1 W., was swamped within hours of the game’s release. As the days have passed, these retailers have had to give refunds to customers buying multiples of the same product because of scalpers who are buying mass quantities and reselling them online with a markup of up to 400 percent.

The refunds have resulted in many benign, well-intentioned shoppers getting their legitimate orders axed. Best Buy, GameStop, and other major retailers across the country have been scrambling to secure shipments of this hot item.

Ever since the holiday season, Nintendo has demonstrated a weakness in manufacturing. It started with a simple controller adapter that allows Super Smash Bros players to connect their Gamecube controllers to a Wii U via the latter console’s USB ports.

The adapter sold out within minutes, then put back up only to sell out once again. Third-parties such as game-importing website Play Asia began to make their own, thriftier devices to compensate for Nintendo’s baffling lack of preparedness. Many of the official adapters, which were priced at a modest $20 or so, have appeared on Amazon and eBay at prices sometimes pushing $500.

Then came the amiibos, Nintendo’s own line of game-compatible figures to rub elbows with Skylanders or Disney Infinity. The initial manufacturing runs of these figures have featured characters from Super Smash Bros and therefore, the entirety of Nintendo’s rich gaming history.

Some figures have disappeared from retail shelves without any hope of restocking, while others have been mercilessly hoarded to resell online or be withheld by vindictive haters of certain characters.

The Majora’s Mask 3DS is yet another product in Nintendo’s recent history to be taken advantage of. Nintendo has become notorious lately for limiting shipments of actual games to push digital purchases through the company’s eShop service found on Wii U and 3DS systems.

Though not confirmed by Nintendo, this strategy may be the reason the physical hardware is getting on badly with both customers and retailers.

Since the smart folks in Iowa City decided to get their Majora’s Mask systems within hours of the product’s announcement, my only way to secure the game may be a shady deal with Slick the Scalper in the back alleys of eBay or Amazon.

There is a spot of light on the horizon; many gaming websites, such as Kotaku, are updating stories on the Majora’s Mask 3DS’ availability and reporting sightings of the aforementioned GC-Wii U adapters and amiibos. So remain hopeful, dear readers. Spotters with our interests in mind are out in wild, ready to blow the bullhorn if any of these haphazardly stocked products are sighted.

Keep your eyes peeled if, like me, you are still trying to get your hands on a game that should have been lining retailers’ shelves for weeks. 


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