The Australian retailer EB Games has issued an apology to customers overnight after it announced it erroneously listed and accepted pre-orders for the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's Master Edition bundle, even though the bundle will not be coming to Australia.
When Nintendo announced the price of the Switch late Friday evening, they also unveiled two special bundles: the Limited Edition Bundle, and a Limited Collectable Bundle. The former was available at retail stores (including EB Games), while the latter was to be sold exclusively through Nintendo Australia's eBay store.
But there was a third edition of Zelda available: The Master (or Masters) Edition. Along with a statue of the Master Sword, it comes with a collectible coin, soundtrack, A3 map, the game and a special Sheikah carry case. The carry case was not part of the Limited Collectable Bundle or Limited Edition bundles in Australia according to Nintendo's original release, and the Master Edition wasn't being made available here either.
Naturally, when EB Games listed the Master Edition bundle on their website, demand was palpable.
A cached version of the Master Edition listing on the EB Games website.
Users pre-ordered the game, receiving receipts with "Master Edition" on them, as one gamer at Syndicate of Gamers did. The following morning, however, they noticed their pre-order had been changed to the Limited Edition without notification.
EB notified users later in the day that their pre-orders had been switched over, with users posting the email on social media.
"We have moved your existing pre-order over to the Limited Edition to ensure you have the opportunity to get one," the email reads.
It's a huge disappointment for customers, since the special carrying case was one of the huge drawcards. It meant they could get the special edition of a game they were going to get anyway with a cool looking accessory that they would have probably bought at some stage.
But the sticking point here isn't the incorrect listing, but the part where pre-orders were automatically converted over to another product. I asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission whether EB should have refunded all pre-orders beforehand, or whether an email should have been sent out before the pre-orders were switched over, and I put the same questions to EB as well.
In a response via email, EB said the Master Edition "was never coming to Australia" and the image posted online was an honest error. "Based on our current information, this region will only be receiving the standard edition and the limited edition which is now presold out at EB Games."
"All pre-orders on the incorrectly posted Master Edition have been transferred to the limited edition, prior to it selling out. This ensured that no customer that pre-ordered the incorrect edition missed out. However, if any customer does not wish to keep their order, they are more than welcome to a full refund."
When pressed on why they switched customers over automatically, EB said they did so "due to the speed that popular editions like this can presell out". "If we had waited for customers to respond with their preference then many would have missed out entirely," their representative added.
The competition regulator also told me that retailers were able to rectify errors in advertising or listings "if they ensure they offer the consumer a refund or alternative product" for sale. "Mistakes can be rectified in this method," an ACCC spokesperson explained.
And that's the most apt description: a genuine mistake. EB were super proactive during the Nintendo presentation, with pre-orders for games and accessories going live minutes after they were announced. And switching the pre-orders over isn't an attempt to screw consumers, but an opportunity to make sure people don't have to scramble a second time to make sure they get a special edition of Zelda.
But sometimes you can move a little too quickly, which created the situation that unfolded above. Kotaku Australia understands that Limited Edition bundles of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are available at other retailers; JB Hi-Fi has stock right now.