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 gray 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, are given wristbands with numbers on them, and if their number is selected, they can buy the console.
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.
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 to 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.”
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 round?
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.
Besides the hellish lines and the recent raffle mistake, the gray market in Japan has reportedly been screwing over people. According to Nikkei, scammers have been selling empty Switch boxes to people thinking they are buying the hardware. Nintendo has made it easier because the company is selling empty Splatoon 2 Switch bundle boxes.
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