Friday, 25 March 2016

A bit of an angry rant about Pre-orders, Nintendo and Scalpers...

For the longest time now, 3DS owners have been aware of the two new Fire Emblem games coming their way: Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest. The twist this time is that both titles have differing viewpoints to the main story and a third, concluding installment subtitled Revelation will be offered as a download with the plan that players will work through Revelation after beating Birthright and Conquest. So it makes sense then that a special edition boxset would be made available for the most die-hard of Fire Emblem fans...

The boxset includes the usual steelbook, poster etc. that we've come to expect from these Nintendo jobs but the major selling point is that the game cartridge includes BOTH games PLUS the downloadable episode. In short, this is the only way to get Revelation in physical form but the set was good value given that it has everything on one cart plus some sweet extras.

I should warn you that from here on out, there's going to be an injection of grumpiness (and beeped-out naughty language).

Now I'm not particularly fussed about missing out on the physical bonuses of the steelbook and so on (I've long since managed to shed the obsession for accumulating such optional extras aside from extremely rare instances) but I absolutely loved Fire Emblem Awakening (easily one of my favourite games ever) and so this special set seemed aimed squarely at somebody like me: a gamer who would absolutely want to play all three segments of the latest Fire Emblem. I've been checking the pre-order status almost daily (the reasoning for which I'll explain in a moment) on Amazon and I've set up an 'interest' alert for Nintendo's own store. Yet considering that the game is set to launch here in Europe in May, there are still no pre-order options available.

So why am I being so obsessive? The dreaded and utterly revolting 'scalpers' of course.

For those unfamiliar with the term, scalpers are re-sellers, people who either have no interest in the game but buy as many copies as possible anyway OR people who purchase multiple extra copies. Typically this happens with limited editions and games guaranteed to receive a small print run. It ALWAYS happens with Nintendo-related products. Then - with no stock at the usual RRP left in the land - the scalpers proceed to either:

a) list their secured pre-orders for sale on ebay in advance of the release with massively inflated price tags and the knowledge that they will get instant payment.

b) wait until the official release and capitalise on those that missed the pre-orders by selling their copies for inflated prices.

These people are - in my opinion - the wretched scum of the gaming scene, gobbling up copies of a game that genuine players are after like fat, greedy pigs. They are the exact breed of party-killing f******s that make modern gaming so exasperating at times, especially Nintendo gaming. Nintendo have a habit of making well-advertised limited edition boxsets for their 3DS and Wii-U games that tend to be for their popular franchises (Zelda etc.) or RPG's - two types of games that special edition types gravitate towards - but the stock is never exactly plentiful. As a result, this is a prime oppurtunity for scalpers to swoop in and absorb the limited stock before flogging it back to desperate punters. It's a pretty miserable situation when entertainment is blighted by people making quick cash off of others' inability to secure a copy of a game. We saw this exact situation with the Amiibo figurines where certain characters quickly became 'rare' and were being peddled for around £50 apiece (the standard RRP is around £10-£12 apiece). There was even reports of certain buyers determined to buy up all the available stock and hoard the duplicates in order to increase the value of their own Amiibo or control the flow of availability to the market. Unreal.

I'm also pretty pissed off with Nintendo. This situation has happened so many times and despite the fact that they could easily sell many more times the numbers they produce, they seem to keep on manufacturing tiny numbers of their special boxsets, oblivious to the inevitable groans of disappointment from their fanbase. But it's a fanbase that will still buy their games anyway so I guess that's okay right? Well, it isn't. This Fire Emblem set is a pretty practical and cost-effective solution to a multi-part game so if Nintendo would simply produced the cartridge with all three titles on in standard packaging alongside the special edition boxset, that would be enough. But I'm expecting them to under-produce again and play into the hands of the parasitic re-seller brigade who rock up to crash the party and throw the drinks in everybody's faces, piss on the host's back lawn and spirit away a valuable-looking ornament from the mantlepiece while nobody is looking. At least the Amiibo were eventually re-stocked but special boxsets don't get a second a run.

Obviously it's just a game at the end of the day so it doesn't even come close to classing as an end-of-the-world problem but even so, it's the same old deadly duo of scalpers and Nintendo that could well bring the disappointment this May. Hopefully I will secure a copy and this little first-world-problem rant will seem like an embarassing outburst in retrospect. Hopefully.

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