Nintendo feeds eight-bit nostalgia then kills it with two-bit decision

Nintendo created a huge eight-bit nostalgia craze, but then killed it by discontinuing their NES Classic Edition. There are still some left here though.

The NES Classic Edition has just become a rare collector’s item. Nintendo has just announced that it will be terminating production of the NES Classic Edition, their inexpensive gaming console that plays classic games meant to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its ancestor, the Nintendo Entertainment System. That was all that it meant for Nintendo, but the news took the gaming world by storm. For Nintendo, it was a mere token of its appreciation to fans but for its fans, it was an opportunity to relive their childhood and again play their favorite 8-bit games on their modern HD TVs. It was an opportunity to introduce their kids and even bond with them by playing more difficult old-school games that are really meant to exercise hand-eye coordination among kids. For Nintendo, it was producing a couple of hundred thousand units of their mini-console for those who want it. What they didn’t count on was the millions who did.

Nintendo only released several hundred thousand units as scheduled and according to their plan. What they didn’t count on was the system’s overwhelming appeal among the older crowd. The stocks sold out even before they hit shelves and people lined up stores like GameStop hoping to be one of the lucky ones. How so? It was for nostalgic reasons among the now adult NES gamers plus its cheap price made it the perfect holiday gift for the upcoming 2016 holiday season. Every geek wanted one and perhaps every kid who heard about it. Nintendo stuck to its guns and released their pre-determined units despite the overwhelming reception on the internet. Nintendo did promise to produce more but strangely did not produce enough to meet demand. The new batches they produced keep selling out whenever they became available. The NES Classic Edition is sold for double the amount on Amazon when available. That’s the law of supply and demand in action. The price goes way higher for the unit on eBay.

Those exorbitant eBay prices might actually be justified now that Nintendo is discontinuing production of the NES Classic Edition. Game collectors and scalpers might now be scrambling to get the last few units remaining in the stores. Many in the tech industry are clueless as to the nature of Nintendo’s decision. Nintendo has every opportunity to make money out of the NES Classic Edition. There are millions more people who want the device but don’t have it. If Nintendo wants to charge $70 for it citing parts shortage of game licensing issues, they could get away with it. They could even produce variants with different sets of games and sell those like hotcakes as well.

Perhaps the most logical reason would be that Nintendo wants to focus its resources over to the Nintendo Switch. Another product that’s relatively successful thanks to its innovative design and true portability which is what their previous product the Wii U should have been. Like the NES Classic Edition, the Nintendo Switch is also plagued with supply issues with few units immediately selling out at stores. Unlike the NES Classic Edition which is considered a novelty product the decision to keep the supplies short for the Nintendo Switch despite its success is also baffling. What sort of two-bit logistics planner do they have working there anyway or is Nintendo really creating an artificial shortage? If it’s the latter, how does Nintendo benefit from the misery of consumers? If it’s the former, Nintendo could really, really use some advice from Apple’s Tim Cook.

Another possible reason is that the NES Classic Edition is no longer needed now that the Switch is out. The NES Classic was simply meant to fill the void left by the Wii U but if that’s the case, Nintendo wanted a money maker but still, why the short supply? Could Nintendo also be afraid that the NES Classic could cannibalize the sale of classic games for the Switch’s Virtual Console? Perhaps because the virtual console also applies for the existing Wii and Wii U. Then again, the Wii is on its way out, and the sales of the Wii-U was a disaster that Nintendo wanted to come back from with the Switch.

Another likely reason is that the NES Classic will vie for attention from consumers against the Switch. Quite true since the price for the Classic is significantly lower than for the Switch. Should Nintendo keep producing the Classic until the end of the year, parents will choose the Classic over the Switch not only for the price point but the nostalgia as well.

How about piracy? The issue that hackers managed to hack the Classic and insert over 600 games (which fit by the way) over the initial 30. But that shouldn’t concern Nintendo too much as only a handful could be brave enough to try the tools now available online. If they screw up, their system gets bricked. Casual owners probably wouldn’t dare. Besides, some people clever enough with a Raspberry Pi are already doing so but still want a Classic Mini.

Guess we’ll never know. Nintendo is keeping their reasons close to heart and is playing it very safe, too safe for perhaps the reasons stated above. It’s still a shame though. Nintendo could really make a killing. Let’s hope they do things differently should they push through with an SNES Classic or N64 Classic.

You can still get your NES Classic Edition or stock up on a couple extra here.