Switch Sales Are Causing Problems In Japan 

Switch Sales Are Causing Problems In Japan 

[Image: Nintendo]

In Japan, the lines for the Nintendo Switch have been hell. The way that retailers are deciding who gets the consoles just caused big woes for one of Japan’s most famous electronics chains.

In an effort to seemingly be “fair” and stymie the grey market, major chains like Bic Camera, Yodobashi Camera, and Toys “R” Us have been holding raffles, with a lucky few winning a chance to buy the Switch.

Customers line up, they are given wristbands with numbers on them, and if their number is selected, they can buy the console.

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Previously, you could simply line up for the hot new game hardware, and it was first come, first served. But several years ago, there started to be more and more of these raffle type sales, especially for hard-to-get children’s toys. The raffles seem designed to discourage resellers, but if they’re not done right, they can screw regular folks over.

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Recently, Twitter user Jinsan recounted how he and a friend lined up at the Bic Camera at Mito Station in Ibaraki Prefecture, hoping to win a chance to buy the Splatoon 2 Switch bundle. According to Jinsan, the staff passed out wristbands with the numbers “179” and “181,” leaving them wonder why they left out “180.”

Number 180, however, ended being selected, meaning that either Jisan or his friend could have won.

Here are the winning numbers. You can see that the M.I.A. number 180 was selected.

Jisan’s tweet got over 22,000 likes and was retweeted over 40,000 times. Bic Camera’s Mito Station branch even issued an apology (below) for the missing number, saying it was “truly sorry for any trouble this caused customers.”

(Image: Bic Camera)

[Image: Bic Camera]

In the apology, the store also said it would strive to do a better job managing the raffle numbers next time. But what about the unclaimed Splatoon 2 Switch bundle? It announced that it would be doing a special raffle for just that one console. It doesn’t sound like they fucked that up.

This whole mess could be why at a branch of another retailer called Geo the “raffle event” was cancelled. Instead it’s having all the children participate in a “paper-rock-scissors tournament” to decide who can purchase one of five Switch consoles it’s getting in stock.

Paper-rock-scissors are often the way things are decided in Japan — kind of like how Westerners flip coins. But what if one of the kids waits a second to see what the others do before throwing out a rock, papper, or scissors? In Japanese that move, which isn’t allowed, is called “atodashi” (後出し). So, what if a kid does atodashi? Will they boot that one kid and make everyone else do it again? But what about those who win that around?


You know a good way this could all be prevented? If Nintendo, who always seems to have hardware shortages, made more consoles available in Japan.

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Besides the hellish lines and the recent raffle mistake, the grey market in Japan has reportedly been screwing over people. According to Nikkei, scammers have been selling empty Switch boxes to people thinking they were buying the hardware.

Nintendo has made easier because the company is selling empty Splatoon 2 Switch bundle boxes.

(Image: Nintendo)

[Image: Nintendo]

Thanks, Nintendo!


  • I really don’t get this at all.

    I can walk into a store today and buy a Switch right now if I wanted to. Why are there such shortages in Japan?

  • What are you talking about? Are you saying that lining up for a Nintendo Switch in Japan is complete hell because the scammers always give people empty boxes thinking that each box contains Nintendo Switch hardware? Well I would say those scammers giving people in Japan empty boxes thinking it contains Nintendo Switch hardware should go to jail that’s what should happen.

  • It’s easy to think that 180 was reserved and miraculously pulled out for someone who works at the store.

  • I don’t believe for a second that Nintendo don’t have the clout to significantly raise their production and get more consoles in store.
    As usual they are artificially toying with supply and demand because it allows them to tightly control sales and deliver KPIs for that metric each quarter.
    It is a shitty thing for consumers and really just shows the disdain Nintendo have for their customer base.
    You know, the people who keep them in business.
    I really hope this tactic backfires in the long run but sadly it won’t because Nintendo fanboys will continue to beg like salivating dogs for the privilege of spending their money on Nintendo products; which are ALWAYS deliberately produced in low numbers.
    Same goes for mini consoles. Why allow a company to treat you like an afterthought? The vast majority of businesses would rapidly lose consumer confidence and take a financial hit. It’s madness.
    Nintendo don’t even make enough games to make their over priced consoles a justifiable purchase anymore. Who in their right mind would buy a PS4 if there were 2 or 3 decent games for it? No one.
    Why are Nintendo the exception?

    • Global shortage of capacitors (and other components) right now. Apple, Samsung, etc have *significantly* more clout in this area than Nintendo (and they’re also having problems securing supply).

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