Hey Nintendo. It's been a minute since we last talked. At the time, the pre-orders for the Super Nintendo Classic Edition had gone live at major retailers in the United States. It was not the best of days: Walmart had already cancelled earlier accidental pre-orders, Best Buy's pre-orders went live in the middle of night, and in general, the systems were gone within seconds. It was a nightmare for all involved, and those were your most fervent fans. John Q. Public never even got a taste of the pre-orders.
The thing is, many of these issues were ones of your own making. The Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition was launched in November of 2016 with the bare minimum of available stock. This is understandable; you didn't expect for the system to take off like it did. The issue was the response to that enhanced demand.
This response wasn't anything new for you, Nintendo. I've written about it for years, notably in relation to the launch of Amiibo line of figures. At the time, I said the issues were low stock and poor communication. Since there were few units and fans had no idea when (or if) you would replenish stock, it led to a feeding frenzy on what was available, which led to scalpers picking up many figures and muddying the waters.
Your communication improved a bit though. Saying something is better than saying nothing.
"The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition system is a hot item, and we are working hard to keep up with consumer demand. There will be a steady flow of additional systems through the holiday shopping season and into the new year. Please contact your local retailers to check product availability," you said at the time.
You sold 196,000 NES Classics in November and those "additional systems" were only a light trickle through the rest of the holiday season. If folks weren't actively hunting for a system, they weren't getting one. And then you dropped the bomb: only seven months after the system had launched, the NES Classic was discontinued. Scalpers were already raking in the bucks, but pricing rose. It was frankly aggravating to many fans who just wanted to pay you for the right to connect to their past. I understand the NES Classic wasn't intended as an ongoing project, but only seven months with such little stock? Madness.
The NES Classic situation stoked fears for the SNES Classic. You had taught people that the system was going to be very limited, both in stock and production time. And the desire for the SNES Classic was likely going to be higher than it was for the NES Classic. It was a retail firestorm of dire proportions and the online pre-orders only reinforced fears.
But then you started listening and changing. Communication was the first step!
"I would strongly urge you not to over-bid on an SNES Classic on any of the auction sites. You shouldn't [have to] pay more than $79.99. I'm going to make millions of these units to flow into the marketplace. But what I don't know is what the demand is going to be. And there is a potential that demand is going to outstrip supply." said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime earlier this month. You let Reggie out to talk! He's a great guy, let Nintendo of America have some more leeway in the future, yeah?
A few days later, you announced that more of the SNES Classic would be available at retail on launch day. Even better, the system was scheduled to cease shipments at the end of 2017, but you were powering on through into 2018. Not everyone needs a launch day system, but you create a feeding frenzy if they believe that's the only time they can pick up your product. Offering more systems and extending the production–to be honest, you should just have lower production for the entire year out from launch–is helpful to consumers.
And you put the NES Classic back into production. Wow!
"Fans have shown their unbridled enthusiasm for these Classic Edition systems, so Nintendo is working to put many more of them on store shelves," you said.
'When' is still a bit fuzzy, but the important thing is that it's happening at all.
As the SNES Classic retail launch loomed, it became clear that this time, there were actually systems on hand at retailers. 100-200 units per major store! While the launch day numbers and "additional stock" of the NES Classic came in single digits per store, you came prepared for this launch.
Did everyone get one today? Of course not, because you're never going to completely hit launch day demand. Logistics and store space makes it impossible. But a lot more people came away happy today and those who lost out still have hope. They'll get one in the future, because you've shown that you were ready for the stock today and you've promised further support in the future.
This is all I've wanted. I wanted you to show up with enough systems and barring that, communicate to your fanbase that more was coming. I know it feels like I can be down on you at times. That's not because I hate you or have it out for you. I love your stuff. I have a Nintendo Switch full stocked with games, an SNES Classic, a ton of Wii U games, and a decent collection of Amiibo. But part of what I'm here on USgamer for is to let you and other folks know when you're faltering or doing something wrong. That's about informing the public and advocating on behalf of the consumer.
But sometimes it can feel like we don't shout out the wins. (I mean, if you somehow missed this, this, and this.) You delivered today and that's why I'm writing this statement. This has been a good launch. I didn't participate (I pre-ordered online), but the buzz and joy has been noticeable. Fans wanted something and you brought it to them.
So good job on today's launch Nintendo. I hope 2017 continues to be the year of you making all the right moves.