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Tips for Buying EarthBound

April 3rd, 2015 | EarthBound, Merchandise, Smash Bros.


GameStop yesterday (courtesy of KingDarian)

I’ve been off the Internet the past few weeks for various reasons, and apparently the other day a bunch of EarthBound/MOTHER 3 stuff happened. For now, though, it sounds like there was an announcement that the Ness Amiibo is a GameStop-exclusive item, and that pre-orders would go on sale at a specific time yesterday. Pre-orders could be made online or at actual stores.

When the fated time approached, though, so many people were trying to order online that the GameStop servers crashed entirely!

Shortly after, GameStop announced you could only pre-order them in person at actual stores.

But it turns out that cashiers at GameStop stores use the same online system and server as the site, so employees couldn’t place in-store orders, either! In fact, I hear that the Ness Amiibo insanity crash prevented GameStop stores from conducting regular business, not just Ness Amiibo stuff 😯 In the end, throngs of gamers were left standing in line for hours at GameStop stores everywhere, many of whom left empty-handed.


Once the dust settled and things got working again, GameStop had completely sold out of its Ness Amiibo pre-orders. So if you weren’t one of the lucky ones, you might have to resort to scalpers or importing from elsewhere, at least until another wave of Nesses happens.

This is all coming to me through second and third-hand info, so if you had any experiences with this Nesspocalypse, please share them in the comments!

It’s amazing to see how ferociously popular EarthBound is among gamers these days. Not even Starmen.Net could’ve caused this back in the day!

EDIT: Here’s a better, more detailed look at the series of events that led to Nessageddon!


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41 Comments to Ness Amiibos Shut Down GameStop, Chaos Erupts

Anonymous said on Apr. 3, 2015

Also Lucas is back in Smash Bros.

Will said on Apr. 3, 2015

Ness was never made available for purchase online. Gamestop lied about online preorders going live at the same time as in store and then sold out of their entire stock before they could even put it on the website.

Peter said on Apr. 3, 2015

I wouldn’t look at this as a sign that EarthBound is ferociously popular. Most of those people who wanted Ness are just general Amiibo collectors and/or would-be scalpers. (In fact, most of the people buying Amiibos probably don’t care about the character itself or the games they are from. Sadly.)

I was one of the few that managed to nab a Ness amiibo preorder in-store yesterday. There were several other guys in line with me, and I asked them all if any of them actually liked EarthBound. Only one of them did and said he bought the cart for $200 and everything. The others, however, flat out stated they’d never played it and they just collect all Amiibo in general.

crabbyRhys said on Apr. 3, 2015

We’re truly the third strongest fans on the internet. Now Gamestop sees the true advantage of being third!

Wow, I thought you guys were just everyday fans, but you took down Gamestop! I also helped in the battle… I threw my slipper at the website… Maybe you didn’t notice.

Suddenly Frank recalled Ness’s shining young face, and began refreshing diligently for a chance at a Ness Amiibo.

All of a sudden some guys rushed into the room! It was the Runaway Five! Lucky quickly ducked behind the server! “I flipped the switch, and it stopped.”

west_haven said on Apr. 3, 2015

I waited in line for two hours to get a Ness, and I tried to get Lucina and Robin but I didn’t have luck there. But I’m happy I got Ness, he was definitely the one I was after!!

delectabit said on Apr. 3, 2015

I managed to get Ness yesterday but JUST BARELY and it took two hours of standing in line and a lot of anxiety from being constantly reminded by employees that it may or may not work

Xplicit84 said on Apr. 3, 2015

Stood in line for and hour and 15 minutes before leaving cause I had to go back to work. Went back to GS a little before 3 and as I walked to the register to preorder Ness the employee goes, “Look Ness just went out of stock.” Looks like I need to find a way to get him else where. :'(

NintenX said on Apr. 3, 2015

After school Thursday, I checked online to see if the pre orders were up… They weren’t. So since a GameStop wasn’t that far away from my home, I decided to swing by there. Fortunately, there wasn’t really much of a line, and I only had to wait about 20 minutes to get the thing ordered (15 of which was just the website trying to load >.<). Apparently, I was one of the lucky ones, as I heard that some had to wait up to an hour just for the preorder to go through. I can't wait for it to come in the mail!

Al said on Apr. 3, 2015

It was pretty nuts, to be honest.
I’m fortunate that I made the call to go in-store early enough to get Ness.
still shocking that it crashed Gamestop’s site.
All in all, it makes me happy to see that people want Ness enough…. to crash Gamestop xD

KingDarian said on Apr. 3, 2015

I was there. Ground zero. Amiibocalypse.

It started with an announcement that Ness (and all other Wave 4) pre-orders would go live at 2PM CT yesterday. The idea was that it would be available both in-store and online at that time. Yesterday morning, however, screenshots of an employee announcement spread stating that the amiibo would only be sold in store at 2PM, and that online pre-orders were planned to go live at a later time.

I wasn’t going to take any chances, so I decided to venture out to my local GameStop, a quiet, out of the way location near a Wal-Mart, but otherwise not very busy. I arrived around 1:30, the second person in search of the fabled amiibo. Someone else came in shortly after me, and we talked a bit about the scarcity of these dreaded plastic toys. As the clock approached 2PM, about half a dozen of us were waiting. The store had three working registers, and a few employees who weren’t originally scheduled came in to help out with the event, which had been given such short notice. The GameStop employees asked us which amiibo we were interested in, and created barcodes ahead of time to try and save some time by scanning them in, instead of manually typing in the item data.

At 2PM the fun began. In the store I visted, three registers were going at once. I don’t think online traffic played as much a factor in what was about to transpire as the fact that all across the country, every single GameStop location was attempting to sell the exact same items at the exact same time, pinging a central location whose mission it was to track the item allocation for every store nationwide. Simply starting the transaction process, starting a new in-store order via the GameStop internal network connected registers, took around 10 minutes. Then came the struggle to actually add items to the transaction.

The employees behind the counter would scan the barcode, and then wait… and wait… and wait. It took about 15 minutes of repeated attempts to add the first item – a bundle of the six new Smash Bros. amiibo, including the exclusive Ness – to the first guy’s transaction. Mine followed shortly thereafter. This shouldn’t have happened. The GameStop system was choking on the sheer number of attempts to buy these amiibo. It was as if every GameStop store was working in unison on a DDoS against their own central server.

Fifteen to twenty minutes later, the three-pack Splatoon amiibo made its way into the order of the guy ahead of me, and mine as well. But it wouldn’t be that easy to check out. The guy in front of me had his GameStop Rewards card ready, which should’ve easily provided all his vital info for shipping the amiibo order to his home, but the unthinkable happened instead. His entire order vanished, and he had to start over from the beginning. My order, luckily, went unscathed.

I’m not a regular GameStop shopper – I tend to order all things from Amazon instead, unless it’s not possible. Take the case of the GameStop exclusive amiibo as a prime example. When it came time for my info, the employee behind the counter typed everything in manually. There was a hiccup along the way, and my order hung in limbo as my name address and telephone number didn’t take, but the items remained in the order. A second attempt at entering everything proved fruitful as a wonderful order confirmation number appeared! The employee behind the counter gave me a high five. This was certainly cause for celebration.

Things culminated with a simple swipe of my debit card, and the order was finalized. Ness (and about eight other new amiibo) would be on their way at the end of next month. I was hoping to grab a couple, but an imposed limit of 1 per customer wasn’t something worth fighting over. The ordeal was unreal, but I made it through successfully at 2:45PM. Customers 1 and 3 were still waiting as I made my escape and posted about my success on Twitter.

I had been paying attention to my on Twitter stream at the time and was hearing similar stories from others who decided to brave the in-store order process. I found out a few minutes later, as I arrived home, that the GameStop.com servers went down at around the time my order got a confirmation. It seemed to be taken down intentionally so that the in-store orders would get priority in accessing GameStop’s system, and it also seems to have helped. GameStop was not prepared for this demand.

Apart from the people in line for amiibo pre-orders, a few regular customers showed up at the GameStop, and unfortunately they weren’t able to conduct their business. With the registers stalled and their website down, GameStop must have lost some business yesterday. Unlike other rare Nintendo goods that are usually available as GameStop locations open up from time zone to time zone or shortly after a Nintendo Direct, this was orchestrated so that every GameStop in the US would, at the same time, allow orders to be processed.

It can probably be construed that Ness was at the center of this whole debacle. He is the exclusive. He is an obscure character from a series with an extremely enthusiastic fanbase that is willing to pay hundreds of dollars for an old video game. But there’s more to this story. It’s all the amiibo. People are afraid of missing out on any and every new release as obtaining them becomes more and more difficult as every new wave comes out. Nintendo’s production is definitely not meeting demand, and these retailer exclusives are only making things worse. I’m worried. I don’t even want to think about what will happen when the Lucas amiibo gets released.

All this time, the employees at the store were more than helpful. They remained patient and calmed, and kept us updated about the progress of the order the entire time. Everything went smoothly, considering the circumstances. If anyone else happened to snag an amiibo yesterday, I would suggest you follow the link at the bottom of your receipt to tellgamestop.com and leave some feedback about your experience.

Gold said on Apr. 3, 2015

Oh man!

Im from Monterrey,MX so, maybe i will have luck and i’ll buy one on Gameplanet.

Kevin_b_er said on Apr. 3, 2015

I concur with other commentators. Game stop internal memo leaked that it was in-store only. It was over an hour before I got Ness into the shopping cart, then it disappeared during order confirmation. I told the cashier to opt for the multipack, thinking it might be easier to buy than the individual Ness. I was successful. I plan on selling the others later as I only cared about Ness. At no time was it ever on the public website.

Nimbus said on Apr. 3, 2015

I was interested in grabbing one of these since it’s Ness, but no way was I gonna wait in line for hours just for a piece of plastic that will sit on my shelf. Would definitely shell out the money for one if it was more readily available, but this is just madness. It’s like Beanie Babies all over again!

Felix_a_me said on Apr. 3, 2015

I really hate how scalpers and other ebay scum do this to fandoms of more obscure game series. I guess in true Earthbound fashion I’ll have to once again shell out $200 for a piece of plastic with a chip inside…

PepperJack said on Apr. 3, 2015

I managed to snag Ness myself and my story is similar to the others. Luckily that was the only amiibo I was going for at the time but it took about 20 minutes to process my WIS preorder. It was pretty tense, but the Gamestop employees at my store handled the situation very well. I felt bad for the non-amiibo customers at the back of the line who unknowingly walked in on this situation.

Captain Cab said on Apr. 3, 2015

I had to work but an awesome friend of mine went to two different GS stores. Waited two hours in vain at a Gamestop standalone store, only two people were able to pre-order Ness at that store before the employees abruptly announced “Sorry, guys! Everything is sold out!” which needless to say, my friend found really suspicious and is convinced the employees at that store just wanted to get rid of everyone either because they were sick of dealing with server issue or maybe even wanted to scalp the figures themselves, who knows. Anyways, my friend went to the other GameStop in our mall nearby after calling first and was able to score my Ness preorder there. She said the employees there were very friendly, patient and professional unlike the other store and kept everything in order. She said they kept apologizing for the delay and also cracked down on scalpers by saying “Sorry, you’re not allowed to order more than one figure at a time. If you want to try to order an additional figure than you’ll need to get back in line again!” She also said the employees pointed to the surveys on the receipts and adamantly encouraged everyone to complain about the pre-order experience to Gamestop corporate in the hopes that they never handle a pre-order using this method again. Anyways, I got my Ness Amiibo preordered and needless to say my amazing friend hit treated to dinner last night!

Captain Cab said on Apr. 3, 2015

Meant say “my amazing friend GOT treated to dinner,” not hit. “PK Typo!”

I think I’ll also mention the location/address and shady behavior of the other store when I get around to doing my survey tonight. Also, I don’t think the Ness craze is simply due to the Amiibo craze and scalpers alone. This is the only Amiibo to cause such an insane frenzy and is just more evidence that Reggie and NOA have been incredibly stubborn and short sighted with EB/Mother popularity here. Hopefully this will inspire NCL to eventually make a Mother collection someday.

dumball92master said on Apr. 3, 2015

I was at Gamestop for two hours to preorder the Ness amiibo.
I’m glad I managed too though.

Stuffgamer1 said on Apr. 3, 2015

@Captain Cab: Actually, Greninja is causing a similar craze for Toys R Us…and even the relatively common, non-store-exclusives are much harder to order this time around.

I was first in line at my GameStop…the order process took OVER an hour, but I did eventually succeed in getting the Smash 6-pack AND the Splatoon 3-pack. Just trying to snag my Greninja and Jigglypuff and I can be done with Wave 4…but TRU and Target are not making that easy. *sigh*

AdmiralCrunch said on Apr. 3, 2015

My friend actually managed to preorder one for himself and while waiting for the gamestop servers to become something other than a molten pile of slag, one of the store clerks mentioned that the server load was 85x that of Black Friday. That’s mind blowing, the demand for the Ness figure. But there’s not enough demand for Mother 3, right? 🙂
Scalper field day…

saturn said on Apr. 3, 2015

got Ness after 2 hours in line while cosplayed as him after deciding to to so for the Lucas announcement the entire day.

Jaykay said on Apr. 3, 2015

I was the first person in line at my store and it still took nearly an hour for my order to get processed. The worst part was when after nearly getting everything taken care of, the program crashed and the cashier had to start all over again. In the end though, I managed to get the bundle and the the Splatoon 3-pack plus I got lucky with Greninja later that night.

Den said on Apr. 3, 2015

It took two hours and thirty minutes for me to get my Ness preorder at GameStop. The line was about 15 people long ahead of me, and as the line slowly started crawling forwards, people were checking their phones and reporting when Amiibos were sold out. First it was Robin and Lucina, then it was Wario, and right when I got to the counter, the clerk announced that Charizard had disappeared from their computer…It felt like the longest five minutes as I got my order in, since I was so worried that Ness would vanish right under my nose.

Vanasto said on Apr. 3, 2015

Nintendo just can’t get it right – their Amiibos are more popular than their games these days and they fail big to meet the demand. It’s almost like they don’t want to make money anymore, and scalpers are the only winners in this lousy game…

SomeGuyyeah said on Apr. 3, 2015

I walked in gs 2 hours after preorders was availible asked the guy if i could order ness (he seemed a lil grumpy about it) Then it took about 5 mins to do so

linkdude20002001 said on Apr. 4, 2015

The website didn’t crash. They shut it off so the in-store system would function better. But even then, it barely worked. I got my Ness and the Splatoon set preordered, so all is well for me. Now I just need my Lucas. :>

wow said on Apr. 4, 2015

This whole thing happened over plastic dolls.

Reggie said on Apr. 4, 2015

So everyone’s A Giygas?

Zaxtur said on Apr. 4, 2015

I was 10th in line at Gamestop for the Ness Amiibo and by the time the servers were back up and the 3rd guy was at the register they announced that the Ness Amiibo was all sold out in their system. That was over an hour of my life wasted. The employees were able to keep one register open for non-Amiibo related purchases, though.

Zaxtur said on Apr. 4, 2015

Reading some of these really makes me call into question whether or not the Ness Amiibo was truly out of stock after an hour of waiting or if the Gamestop employee was just mistaken. Feeling even more bummed/annoyed about it now. I also missed out on Jigglypuff and Greninja.

Dr.x said on Apr. 4, 2015

Just wait until Lucas amiibos come out.

A-wel Cruiz said on Apr. 4, 2015

Man, reading these comments makes me wonder what small slice of hell GameStop must be.

I live in Canada, and was able to get my Ness and Pac-Man amiibos preorded at EBGames after only waiting a couple of minutes. My girlfriend also got her Ness along with Charizard with no issue.

Kyle said on Apr. 5, 2015

I bet just like the EarthBound Cart, Ness is going to go over 100$. Thankfully, I got one.

neonix said on Apr. 7, 2015

I was stuck in Gamestop for about an hour and a half, but I eventually got my Ness ordered in.

I’m really really glad I decided to sneak out of work instead of trying to sit at my desk and order online.

Robfozz said on Apr. 7, 2015

I literally got one of the last ones! I walked into my gamestop, they were able to get online and literally 2 minutes later when I got home, everyone was flipping out about the servers going down.

SNES Fan said on Apr. 8, 2015

Me too!

Alex Dyson said on Apr. 8, 2015

Because of damn-course it’s sold out,

1995: Nobody cared about Earthbound.

2015: People suddenly care!

MagatsuOrpheus said on Apr. 10, 2015

Maybe this is like the Gold Marios at Wal-Mart where they sold out of pre-orders but there’s still plenty in stock for when they actually go on sale.

SNES Fan said on Apr. 10, 2015

Luckily, there was only me and some other guy. After an hour, our orders finally came through.

Tenma said on Apr. 16, 2015

hooooly Guacamole!

Paul said on May. 2, 2015

That moment when you’re just hearing of this and do your research….and you feel like Ash did on that first episode of Pokemon when he overslept and Gary was waiting at Professor Oak’s lab to rub it in his face… :'(


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