If you haven’t heard, Nintendo recently released a statement in an interview with IGN stating that they would be discontinuing the impossible to find NES Classic Edition. In what feels like an odd response for a wildly popular product, I wanted to dissect why.
Nintendo is not shy about producing “limited edition” products and actually making them limited and hard to find– some may argue too limited. Creating a product that actually is limited is something that I admire Nintendo for, even though I do wish they would gauge their production a little bit more accurately. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen a non-Nintendo made “limited edition” game release sitting on the shelf of a Target or Best Buy for months, to eventually see it on clearance. That burns, especially when you shelled out the extra $40-$150 for something that should’ve been a collector’s item– or at least not readily available months after launch.
The problem here though isn’t Nintendo making so few of these, but that they never marketed the NES Classic as the limited item that it was initially intended to be. Some people may argue that they are stopping production of these so as to not cut into the success of the Switch, but I don’t buy that– at least not directly. My guess is that it may have to do with the Virtual Console being released in the near future and Nintendo trying to justify people spending a larger price tag on games that were essentially $2 each on the plug-and-play NES Classic. Though, I still don’t fully feel like that is the reason either.
I may be in the minority here, but I do think the NES Classic was always intended to be a limited item for the holidays– they just never told us. The replica console was something to generate Nintendo buzz over the shopping season to keep the Big N relevant in the minds of consumers come March. Nintendo does seem to always gauge it’s fans’ interests poorly, but if you were to peer through Nintendo’s eyes at store shelves and notice similar machines from Sega and Atari collecting dust, that may be a way in which they were gauging initial production of their product. Though, after the initial success and pandemonium surrounding the console that’s when I think Nintendo should’ve adjusted their strategy.
Nintendo created a product that was not only sought after– and still is– but they tapped into a market outside of their core audience. I’ve heard from plenty of people who I know that I wouldn’t necessarily classify as gamers, nor do most of them game now, but they all either had the NES Classic, or wanted one. That’s an important market to tap into. Essentially, they created a nostalgia machine that not only Switch day one owners wanted, but fans from the past and parents who want to show their kids the games they grew up on as well. Potentially reaching customers that wouldn’t buy a Switch anyways, and instilling their IPs into the minds and hearts of a new generation of gamers.
I’m not defending Nintendo in making so few of these, I’m actually pretty livid that I still don’t own one. I do however appreciate things that are actually limited, but for many reasons this not only feels like a missed opportunity for Nintendo but a slap in the face to some of the loyalest of fans.
I really hope that if the SNES Classic comes to fruition this year, that Nintendo not only produces an adequate amount, but markets it as a limited item if they in fact intend to make it one.