Last August, many of us missed out on pre-ordering a Pocket, the beautiful all-in-one handheld console from Seattle-based hardware manufacturer Analogue. With a restock now confirmed for 2021, the company has promised to beef up its servers and crack down on resellers to help ensure folks are able to buy the coveted system rather than watching stock get slurped up by bots and scalpers.
A lot of the issues with the initial Pocket pre-orders had to do with demand; the servers just couldn’t keep up with the number of people trying to purchase a system, which caused the checkout to hang on shipment calculations. Analogue says it has identified the issue and will be “taking action to ensure our checkout is optimized for large traffic spikes” when the Pocket goes back on sale.
That said, the Pocket launch, like many in-demand products, was also plagued by bots and scalpers that both got through checkout faster than a normal human and with intentions to resell at marked-up prices rather than enjoy the product themselves. Analogue’s solution here is twofold: implement “robust” bot protection and monitor the reselling situation.
“All orders placed using bots will be cancelled and their inventory will be allocated to real users,” Analogue’s announcement reads. “Analogue will be monitoring resale websites like eBay to report scalpers reselling pre-orders (resales of Analogue products that the seller does not have in their possession). This is against eBay’s policies and we will be reporting these listings to eBay directly. All pre-orders found to be listed for resale will be cancelled.”
Pocket’s a very interesting device, because rather than emulate classic games via software, the handheld employs two field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chips that can be configured to support Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Sega Game Gear, SNK Neo Geo Pocket, and Atari Lynx cartridges at a hardware level. Add to that a cutting-edge 1600x1440 display and an optional dock to display the handheld games on a television, and you get a uniquely impressive machine that’s generated enough hype to make scalping it a lucrative business venture.
Analogue has yet to provide a date for the initial Pocket restock, but the company reassures that the powerful handheld was never intended to be available for a limited time. As in many other areas, the covid-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in Analogue’s supply chain, and slowed its ability to keep its products on digital shelves. Unless Analogue announces a delay, the initial Pocket pre-orders are still set to ship in May.
“With all things considered, we will be doing our best to keep Pocket in stock in 2021,” Analogue said.