I cannot decide if Nintendo is stubborn, crazy, or just knows something we all don’t.
Yesterday’s “WTF Nintendo!” news was that they were killing off the NES Classic Edition console.
If you have tried buying one of these consoles in the fives months that they have been for sale… well, you’re probably at least a bit angry. They have been selling out like crazy and the short supply has led to speculators snapping up all they can find to resell them for 3x or more their list price on the gray market.
As a company, what do you do when you have a product that is so popular that you cannot keep it on store shelves? At a minimum you keep producing it to exploit that demand. Maybe you even refine the product or make some minor addition that allows you to charge more for it. I mean, how many variations of Atari 2600 classic consoles and game packs for various platforms have there been over the years? Atari has been milking that nearly 40 year old cow for at least 30 past its peak.
While I am not at all in the classic Nintendo fan club… I was on my third or fourth computer by the time the NES came to the US… this sort of nostalgia console and how it plays in the market still grabs my attention. I figured it was popular enough to have a nice long run.
But Nintendo cancelled it, with this statement going out to the Americas market:
Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year. We encourage anyone interested in obtaining this system to check with retail outlets regarding availability. We understand that it has been difficult for many consumers to find a system, and for that we apologize. We have paid close attention to consumer feedback, and we greatly appreciate the incredible level of consumer interest and support for this product.
I do not understand.
I have seen a number of theories as to why Nintendo has cancelled the NES Classic console. They include:
- It isn’t profitable, or profitable enough
- Licensing issue with one of the non-Nintendo games
- It is taking attention/resources/shelf space from the Switch
- More profitable to sell these games a la carte on Virtual Console
- The fact that it can be hacked for other uses
- They have something else planned (SNES Classic?)
- Some other Nintendo reason we cannot imagine
The reason could be any one of those, some combination of them, or some reason not on the list including, as Ars Technica put it, Nintendo hates money.
When I think of Nintendo, three different things come to mind.
Nostalgia farmers – They have worked and re-worked Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon, and, above all else, Mario for decades now. You buy Nintendo hardware to play these franchises.
Hardware focused – As somebody who has worked for hardware companies before, from the outside at least they betray all the signs of a firm that measures it value in terms of hardware units shipped. It was a huge break with tradition for Mario and Pokemon to appear on smart phones.
Bad at Forecasting – Having demand exceed supply is a good problem, but only if you handle it well. And Nintendo has had the reverse problem as well.
Odd Man Out – In the console wars if often seems like Sony and Microsoft are battling each other while Nintendo is over in the corner wondering what Mario should do next, unaware that it has competitors.
Unfortunately, these characteristics can be mixed and matched to come up with almost any of the suggested reasons for why Nintendo decided it was time to cancel the NES Classic Edition.
Why do you think Nintendo made this move?