NES Classic Edition: Manufactured Scarcity Or Bad Planning?

It goes without saying that one of the single most popular items on most shoppers’ lists this season is the NES Classic Edition. The plug-and-play miniature version of the Nintendo Entertainment System has certainly been one of the most difficult items to grab for wish lists this Christmas. Packed with 30 classic games from yesteryear, fans can instantly have a library of some of the best games ever made.

Nintendo announced the Classic Edition back in June. This seemed to replace the holiday game that usually appears on Nintendo’s home consoles during the Christmas season. With the Wii U on the way out, this was to be the perfect item to tide fans over until the Wii U’s successor the Switch is released in March 2017.

Most assumed Nintendo would have plenty of systems available, especially since it was made known that they would not be accepting preorders. Considering the problems Nintendo ran into with the Amiibo releases a couple of years back, it was hoped that they had finally learned their lesson when it came to underestimating the supply chain of the business.

[Image by Nintendo of America]

The days leading up to the launch, it was clear to see that Nintendo had in fact either not learned their lesson or had deliberately manufactured scarcity, a tactic that many had accused them of in 2006 with the launch of the Wii home console, according to a Polygon report. Regardless, large big box retailers received as little as three systems at initial launch. Game specialty stores like GameStop didn’t fare much better getting just six at some of the most popular locations.

Recently, Nintendo of America’s President Reggie Fils-Aime, set the record straight with CNet on what happened with the launch of the NES Classic Edition.

“Every day there’s more going into the retail channel. The overall level of demand is certainly greater than we anticipated, that’s why we’re suffering through the shortages out there in the marketplace.”

He went on to explain what the approach Nintendo was attempting to take with reintroducing classic games to some people that had never played them before.

“We saw the NES Classic as an opportunity to engage with millennials, gen-Xers, boomers, people who had played those games back in the day, but life had gone by, and they had somewhat walked away from gaming.”

“It was a great way to re-engage them, and our belief is that by re-engaging them, it creates an opportunity for Super Mario Run, it creates an opportunity for our 3DS business, it creates an opportunity for Nintendo Switch, because all of a sudden they’re recognizing what they knew 20 or 25 years ago: they love Mario. They love Zelda. They love all of our classic IP, and they’re re-engaging with it right now.”

Many have questioned the logic of not knowing how big the NES Classic Edition would be. Many experts in the industry including had expected to see the console at every check out in every department store in the land. However, that has not been the same strategy Nintendo has employed in the past.

Nintendo allows very little access to the inner workings of their company. In their defense by the time it was apparent how big the Classic Edition would be, they were possibly too far along in the manufacturing process to meet the demand. It seems to be disconcerting to most though that they continue to make these same mistakes.

[Image by Nintendo of America]

March 2017 will see the release of arguably Nintendo’s most important home console to date, the Switch. Can Nintendo afford to have the same manufacturing setbacks that have plagued the NES Classic Edition? Are you willing to wait for them for their next console longer than initially anticipated?

[Featured Image by Nintendo of America]