Today’s the day. Later tonight, Nintendo will finally reveal all the details of its upcoming console, the Nintendo Switch. Expected to be revealed along with upcoming titles is the pricing and availability of the console. Once that happens, as Nintendo faithful such as myself know, it’s off to the races. As many discovered this past holiday season with the NES Classic release, Nintendo stuff tends to go fast, and a lot of it ends up in the hands of scaplers on eBay. While trying to get a pre-order down for the hot new console sounds daunting, I’ve compiled some steps to try and help you get your next home console. Oh, and I guess your next portable one too.
Make sure you can pay the full cost of the console.
This isn’t a put down about being financially responsible, it’s a warning: Say you follow all these other pieces of advice and get a Nintendo Switch pre-order in your cart. Great job! Except you weren’t expecting how much the retailer wants in order to hold your console for you.
Game pre-order deposits can be quite small but consoles are several hundred dollars. Retailers want a little bit more of a commitment than a fiver down. For example, when I preordered my Wind Waker edition of the Wii U (which was already a year and half old machine), GameStop required a $50 deposit down. I also preordered The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Collector’s Edition through them; and at that time there was no deposit. I had to purchase the entire product right there. The point is that deposit requirements can vary. Going back to the issue of scalpers, if the full console price is required at retailers, this can dissuade scalpers. Normally, scalpers will make a pre-order and then used a eBay/Craigslist sale to pay off the purchase and pocket the difference. Needing the full amount could disrupt this. However, no retailer has indicated how much will be required at this point.
Though, how much does the Nintendo Switch cost? Unfortunately, we won’t know until tonight. In spite of that, some retailers have put up placeholder prices that indicate what to expect. Walmart has a placeholder of $399, but most pundits believe this to be a high marker and not indicative of the final price. Best Buy has a placeholder of $249, which seems a bit in line with other reports, such as Japanese newspaper Nikkei and European outlet Let’s Play Video Games. My recommendation: plan on have $350 in disposable cash just in case.
Know where you’re going, and get settled in.
Chances are you already have a store in mind you want to buy from. If you haven’t, decided where you want to buy from first. Open a new tab and pull up the applicable web page. I’ve collected Switch landing pages for major retailer that were available at the time of this writing and will be listed below. Now, decided where you want to go next, and so on and so forth. Understand that there is a good likelihood the first retailer you want to buy from is also a lot of people’s store of choice. Get really familiar with your computer’s F5 key and refresh the page every so often. If you’re computer-savvy, there are various add-ons that can be used to refresh pages automatically. Just make sure you don’t get caught shopping while at work!
If a page goes down, don’t give up! When web pages get an overload of requests, they can struggle with the load, but major retailer pages will usually not go down entirely. Mobile web pages often use less resources and can place orders while everyone struggles on computers. My experience with installed apps isn’t as great, however. They do not refresh right away and may not even be able to retrieve the Nintendo Switch pages on the first day, as they are brand new pages on host sites.
Not a fan of online? There is a chance brick and mortar stores will be able to place orders for you as well. GameStop is likely your best chance in this endeavor, but their systems are the exact same ones as online and have gone down in the past-ask amiibo fans about Wave 4 and watch them shudder-and stores will have a set amount to sell. New York City denizens can visit the Nintendo Store on 1/13 for a limited pre-order run. Being completely honest, if you’re reading this and you’re not camped outside a store right now, you’re already too late. Just stay comfy and warm.
Links to landing pages, expect these to update to have pre-order links when available:
Other retailers such as Fry’s Electronics and Newegg did not have Switch pages at the time of this writing.
Notifications are your best friend now.
Now that you’ve got your links and your money, the real challenge begins. As of this writing, no retailer has indicated exactly when pre-orders would go live with the exception of the Nintendo Store New York. Normally people miss out on things like this because they don’t know when to expect it to happen; and unfortunately there’s no reliable way to predict it. We do have the internet, though, and that gives us a lot of power.
You can create a Google Alert for pre-orders “going live”-most message boards use that terminology. If you’re going to be on the go a lot this weekend, you can also put your smartphone to work for you. IFTTT is an automator app that connect to sources like Reddit and even retailer apps to send notifications about availability posted either by users or retailers. If you use Twitter, there are several accounts you can turn to for alerts. My personal recommendation is @Wario64, who is so on the ball with gaming deals and availability game developer Suda51 is convinced he isn’t a human.
Don’t take it too seriously
Easily the best advice I can give is the one no one likes to hear. Truth is, you might give it your all, but you still can miss out on getting a Nintendo Switch at launch. It’s tough, and I feel your pain. The Switch isn’t a limited item, though, and there’s little reason to believe restocks will be as low as the NES Classic, as this is Nintendo’s new flagship. While you might not be the first to play Breath of the Wild, you may also dodge early launch issues such as bad battery life or defective screens. Remember the Xbox 360’s Red Ring of Death? Most of those were early adoption consoles. I’m not saying the Switch is going to be poorly designed, but issues can come up and some patience can save a lot of time and grief.
Additionally, accepting that you still might not succeed in this now can help lighten the disappointment. You’ll be less likely to compromise and sell out to scalper, and you hopefully won’t take out your irritation on the poor customer service representative who probably doesn’t like this anymore than you. Plus, the fact this entire article is justified in existing is kind of silly, right? Nintendo really does need to catch up to the times and make its console available to people without the need to turn into Batman to track down. They probably won’t, but that should be their problem, not yours.
If you can, the best thing to do would be to wait. Wait for people to review the hardware and performance. Make sure there aren’t any problems. Confirm there are games you actually want to play to justify whatever you’re going to end up paying. If you can’t wait, that’s fine too, you do you. I hope these steps can help you secure your new console, and I hope that it is truly worth all the effort.