As a geek of over 20 years, I've seen my fair share of console launches. The PlayStation 2's debut in October 2000 sticks out to me the most, not necessarily because anything extraordinary happened, but rather that I remember seeing my Dad look on eBay to find that they were selling for over $2000. Needless to say I had to wait a few weeks to get one.
With the Nintendo Switch only two months away from us, now's the time to remember why it's important to pre-order early.
My experience with the Wii U launch is perhaps the most applicable to this situation. I remember not being all that interested in the console months leading up to launch. But this was 2012, one of the least impressive software years in gaming history. I found myself bored to tears by the time October came around. The Wii U soon found its way on my wish list.
The problem was that everyone that wanted a Wii U had already pre-ordered one. In addition, there were a lot of people who pre-ordered a Wii U with the hopes of reselling it for extra money.
I ended up feeding into the latter by spending a few days searching on Craigslist before finding someone with a Best Buy pre-order receipt. The exchange in a Denny's parking lot felt like a drug deal, and more importantly it cost me an additional $100 beyond the sticker price. But hey, at least I had a Wii U pre-order.
Weeks later I would attend the Wii U's launch where there was a line of people similarly excited to play its handful of unimpressive games. Little did we know that the console would become one of the greatest blunders in industry history.
If the Wii U can be resold for more than $100 beyond the sticker price at launch, you can bet the Switch will be affected in the same way.
The supply chain involved in a new console launch is extraordinary. You're talking about millions of an expensive product having to be manufactured, shipped, and delivered to thousands of retailers across the globe. Forecasting demand precisely on day one is nigh impossible, and selling out is good for marketing, anyway. Due to this, companies like Nintendo always drastically under-produce at launch.
It usually takes months for supply to met demand. By the time anyone can just jog into a local store and pick up a console, the excitement of launch has long dissipated. It's only the people who got in early or succumbed to the scalper marker that get to enjoy the early—and frustrating—early days.
Tomorrow, Nintendo is going to share all-new information about the upcoming console, and you can bet that will include pre-order information. If there's any part of you that thinks that you'll be interested in the console at launch, do everything in your power to lock-in a pre-order as soon as possible. Even if you end up changing your mind, there is bound to be someone in your life who will want it. You don't want to be the guy scanning Craigslist for a pre-order.