This week two new pieces of video game hardware that are set to arrive this Fall became available for pre-order. Both the Xbox One X and the SNES Classic showed up on retailer websites ever so briefly before almost immediately selling out. Gamers across the country raced to their phones and computers to try and be the first to secure their shiny new piece of tech like they were in the Hunger Games. And like the kids in those books, most of them ended up very disappointed (although I guess in the book they ended up dead). Both of these new consoles were ones that I was excited about when I first heard about them, but when it was time to put my money down I had two different experiences.
Microsoft had already announced that they would be revealing pre-order information for the Xbox One X that day during their Gamescom presentation, so I sat through an hour and half rerun of their E3 conference so that I wouldn’t miss my chance. The show ended and within minutes the console was available for order on all major retailer websites. I placed my order on Amazon and that was that. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
I was able to justify paying the high price tag of the X because a couple of months ago my wife had gotten me a 4k television for Father’s Day. You don’t spend that much money on a fancy new 4k television unless you want to see 4k entertainment, and the Xbox One X is the only option when it comes to gaming in true 4k and one of only a few options for watching 4k movies (how many times do you think I’ll say 4k in this paragraph?). So come this November I’ll happily be watching movies and playing games like Call of Duty: WWII and Assassins Creed: Origins in glorious ultra high definition…. 4k.
The SNES Classic on the other hand was much more of a cluster**** when it came to pre-orders. After ordering one last month from Wal-Mart only to have them cancel it days later, all anybody knew about the actual date for ordering was that it would be towards the end of August. So when I woke up the other day and saw that several outlets had put up (and sold out of) preorders in the middle of the night I figured that was probably the end of it. But later that afternoon several more retailers made the system available for order and a funny thing happened.
I didn’t care.
After that initial Wal-Mart pre-order, I had been so excited about the system. But once they cancelled it I found I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I would be. And when another opportunity came to get one I didn’t even try. What was it that had made it so alluring to me in the first place? Were there a bunch of games on it that I’d never played before? Nope, I have an SNES on my shelf alongside most of the games that are on the Classic. Was it the convenience of having all of those amazing games on one unit? Maybe a little, but how hard would it really be for me to switch out the cartridges between games if I wanted to play. When I really gave it some thought, there weren’t many reasons for me to want the thing other than that it was…. neat.
There’s a part of me that’s always wanted the newest, latest and best technology. There’s just something about getting that shiny new piece of tech that’s slightly better than the last model that gets my adrenaline going. I know it’s dumb, I know that most of the time it’s completely unnecessary, but whether it’s the new iPhone or a new television, I sometimes just can’t help myself. And even though for me the Xbox One X is a much more “useful” product, there’s still a part of that decision to purchase one that comes down to wanting to have the latest “thing”.
Does my passing on the SNES Classic mean that part of me is starting to change? Maybe… a little… but probably not. I can’t say with any certainty that if I walked into a Target store this Fall and it’s sitting there on the shelf that I wouldn’t grab it. I think it just means that it’s probably good to take a step back before making a purchase like that and decide if this is something that you want because you think you’ll get great value and entertainment out of it, or if you just want to be able to say to those around you “Yeah, I got that cool new thing”.
And that’s not to say that people shouldn’t want an SNES Classic, it really is a good deal for some of the greatest retro games of all time. But sometimes the nostalgia is so powerful and alluring that we can’t see anything past that. So this time I was able to stay strong and pass up on that purchase, but I’m sure another thing will come around before too long that is the new hotness and I’ll just HAVE to have it. And to those of you who are going to try and track down an SNES Classic, it looks like it’s going to be a challenge. So good luck to you, and may the odds be ever in your favor.