The shmozzle that followed the rollout of “real” Nuka Cola Quantum, the Fallout 4 marketing tie-in created in conjunction with the Jones Soda Co., was irritating but not entirely surprising. The sky-blue soda was available exclusively at Target and the supply was extremely limited—as little as one or two cases per store. Unfortunately it was snapped up almost immediately (in some instances, according to complaints on Reddit, by Target employees). There are also claims of stores failing to put purchase limits on the soda, allowing one or two individuals to walk away with the entire stock.
That’s bad enough in its own right, but Fallout fans were further incensed when the stuff started turning up on eBay at obscenely inflated prices. Single bottles are commonly going for $50 to $150, but one especially optimistic fellow started bidding on a set of three bottles at $380. Complaints quickly began rolling in on the Jones Soda Facebook page, especially after the company reiterated the Target exclusivity and said the soda would only be available while supplies last.
Today, however, Jones Soda appeared to recognize just how upset people are, and has taken a different tack in response. “Nuka Cola was developed to be an exclusive limited edition item,” it wrote. “While weâ€™re very excited by the response to the program, we recognize that the demand far exceeded everyoneâ€™s expectations, and we will be working closely with everyone involved to try and expand the program and bring you more.”
It’s good that Jones has acknowledged the problem, but I think we could also take a moment to acknowledge the special kind of determined cluelessness it took to get to this point in the first place. Fallout 4 is one of the most anticipated games to come along in years, and Target is a huge, mass-market retailer. What about that combination could possibly make anyone think that tiny, one-off quantities would be the way to go? If you want to make it a true collector’s item, put up a barrier that limits access to those who really want it, as was done with the Fallout beer; if you want a high-visibility marketing tool, then pump it out by the truckload, stack it high, and watch it fly. Trying to have it both ways is just begging for a mess of exactly this sort.