So Long NES Classic, and Thanks for All the Aggravation

Nintendo: Making Good Choices Since 1889™.

Opinion by Nadia Oxford, .

I have no idea how much money Nintendo missed out on because it failed to keep the NES Classic Edition adequately stocked over the holiday season. I can't even give you an estimate. I know very little about analytics; I'm not a numbers person.

I'm more of a words person. All I can offer you as proof that Nintendo screwed the pooch with the NES Classic are a couple of anecdotes. Here's a good one.

NES Classic Discontinued in North America

Nintendo is very sad about doing the thing that they have control over.

I had surgery at the end of November last year. As I was being prepped to have my abdomen sliced open and the doctors were doing their small-talk thing (it was not my first time at the operating theatre rodeo), they asked what I did for a living. I told them.

The anaesthesiologist stopped just before he injected my IV line with a huge syringe of The Good Stuff, and said "Oh, man. Can you tell me where to get one of those mini-NES things? I can't find one anywhere. I'm dying."

Unfortunately, I had no answer for him. Actually, I just laughed; I was sedated and kind of drunk. But I had no coherent answer for the reams of people who asked me about the NES Classic's availability in the weeks following my surgery, including friends, family, acquaintances, gamers and non-gamers. I had no answer, because, again, Nintendo screwed the pooch with the NES Classic.

It appears Nintendo is determined to keep on humping the hound, too. Earlier today, Nintendo told IGN it plans to discontinue the NES Classic.

"Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year," Nintendo said. "We encourage anyone interested in obtaining this system to check with retail outlets regarding availability."

It added, "NES Classic Edition wasn’t intended to be an ongoing, long-term product. However, due to high demand, we did add extra shipments to our original plans."

I feel you, kitty.

When video game archeologists (it's totally going to be a career in the future, start training up your kids now) study the detritus of the hobby, I doubt any discussion will generate as much heated bafflement as "What was Nintendo's deal with the NES Classic?" While I've noticed Japanese game developers sometimes overlook the powerful nostalgia behind their brands, Nintendo's never had qualms about cashing in on its past. Nor should it: The games and characters that made the company a household name are beloved for very good reasons. So even if I live long enough for my age to register as random NES junk-tiles instead of numbers, I'll never understand why Nintendo left such a huge, quivering stack of cash on the table.

Oh, I can take guesses. Maybe Nintendo doesn't want the NES Classic to interfere with the Switch's Virtual Console, whenever that rolls out. While this is the likeliest explanation, it's still dumb. The NES Classic Edition is the perfect serving platter for '80s nostalgia. Mom Wal-Mart who hasn't touched games since Axl Rose incited riots by no-showing at his concerts probably isn't going to drop $300 USD on the Switch, but she'll gladly spend $60 USD on an adorable little NES pre-loaded with the games she loved as a kid.

Classic lines in fantasy literature: "I can't carry the Ring for you, but I can carry you," "You killed my father; prepare to die," and "The NES Classic is available at local retailers."

Maybe Mom Wal-Mart will play the NES Classic herself. Maybe she'll show the games to her children. Maybe she'll immediately forget she even bought the stupid thing after she tries to pull out of the parking lot and discovers in the worst way possible that she forgot the baby on the roof of her car. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what she does with the machine. Nintendo still has her money.

Also, Nintendo's 2016 holiday season was as bare as Yoshi's butt. A fat supply of NES Classics could've done a lot to plug up Nintendo's Wii U-inflicted wounds with cash. Didn't happen. I can't even. Can anyone even?

I suppose it's possible Nintendo has a follow-up in mind, e.g. a new NES Classic mode stuffed with even more games than the original (Ooh! Can we get a top-loader variant?). Maybe a Super Nintendo Classic Edition is in the works. Hey, it makes sense. Nintendo's statement to IGN carries a note of grim finality, though. If something is going to succeed the NES Classic Edition, the company's not offering any immediate clues or comfort.

Either way, this is the end of the road for the NES Classic Edition as we know it. Game Over. Everyone loses. Except for all the scalpers who are currently stripping down to dive into their money bins Scrooge McDuck-style.

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Comments 35

  • Avatar for Neifirst #1 Neifirst 11 months ago
    It was a $60 closed system that offered Nintendo no potential for future profit, but helped to keep their name in the headlines during the holidays. It's not really that shocking that it's being discontinued.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #2 riderkicker 11 months ago
    To say a lot of their resources were toward the Switch is laughable as development kits were available in quite a while, and there just isn't a glut of releases for the system. It feels like they wanted to make more units, but right when the bigger plans were about to happen, execs went all, nah slow your roll, generate some scarcity.

    Personally I'm glad I skipped getting an NES Mini, considering I found another way to play NES/Famicom games on my TV, plus can do other things for the same price. But FOMO! I'll never know exactly how the GUI works, or the feel of a new NES Controller in my hands. But whatever. the desire is fading, especially when Nintendo's "former" competitors have things lined up.Edited April 2017 by riderkicker
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  • Avatar for ArugulaZ #3 ArugulaZ 11 months ago
    Nintendo has to put an end to this artificial scarcity, like, yesterday. They've been at this for at least a decade... possibly since the late 1980s if you count Super Mario Bros 3, which I recall was pretty difficult to find. It's short-sighted, irresponsible, and in one instance has gotten someone killed. It always bothers me to see a Wii at a garage sale for ten or twenty dollars, knowing that Jennifer Strange threw her life away to get one back in 2006. Will it happen again with the NES Classic, or the Switch?
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  • Avatar for ArugulaZ #4 ArugulaZ 11 months ago
    @riderkicker Same. I jumped straight to the Xiaomi MIBOX, which cost about the same but can do a lot more. I can play NES games on this thing, then watch a clip from Seth Meyers or Stephen Colbert, then listen to some tunes on Pandora, then come back and play some old Genesis games. It's a much better value, even if it looks like a futuristic hockey disc rather than some obsolete 1980s technology.
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #5 Jonnyboy407 11 months ago
    Nintendo: "nah, keep your money. We don't want it. Oh, wait, here's some amiibo!"
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  • Avatar for bigbadboaz #6 bigbadboaz 11 months ago
    Simply a despicable company, which no longer deserves support from the fans it treats with such clear contempt.

    Unfortunately, too many of you will continue to line up and ask the proper time to bend over.

    I can only hope the initial success of the Switch peters out quickly and Nintendo finds the limits of the niche they've stubbornly painted themselves into. Greatest games on the planet, paired with the slimiest management in the industry. Shame.
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #7 jeffcorry 11 months ago
    So much for my impulse buy. I mean, I have most of those games, but it would have been cool to have.
    I think I will most likely let this one pass. Unless I stumble across one, but being in a rural small town...
    Chances aren't great.
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  • Avatar for neostryder #8 neostryder 11 months ago
    A reliable source from within Nintendo told me first-hand that they were unable to source a specific part from a manufacturer that suffered huge losses in an earthquake. =/ Oh, well, time to build a RetroPie machine...
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #9 Roto13 11 months ago
    At this point, it's probably too late to capitalize on the hype anyway. How much of a demand is there for them at this point?
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  • Avatar for saturn500 #10 saturn500 11 months ago
    @bigbadboaz You've been watching too many angry ranty Youtubers, I think.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #11 link6616 11 months ago
    @bigbadboaz I'm not sure "despicable" is really the word for this situation.

    We had a reasonably priced product, and it's only real sin is not being sold enough? It's annoying and poor form, but its far from despicable.

    And if neo above is right, that it was due to a part being difficult to source, that makes a lot of sense. And frankly that makes the most sense given Nintendo more than most companies really keep their stuff on shelves for a LONG time. So this end of production is really quite unusual for them.
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  • Avatar for bigbadboaz #12 bigbadboaz 11 months ago
    @saturn: not at all. Principle is important no matter the topic.
    @link: "Despicable" is the word for their long-established behavior towards their customer base. With regard to this situation, they've come out more than once and claimed the system was "not limited", then that they "understood, and would meet, demand". Now this, in blatant contradiction just months later. There is no excuse for the lying, no excuse for the disrespect. What were they even trying to accomplish?

    About the "part sourcing".. sure, maybe, but you're talking about an anonymous internet anecdote. Nintendo's history says they're just doing what the hell they want, because they can.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #13 VotesForCows 11 months ago
    Well that's a shame, would have been nice to get one. But I was around for the NES first time, and I prefer new games anyway!

    I do wonder if Nintendo's characteristic supply issues are a calculated effort to keep second hand prices high, to sabotage the after-sale market. If so, its a pretty sensible strategy.

    I'm sure USG had an article on their supply a few months ago...
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  • Avatar for link6616 #14 link6616 11 months ago
    @VotesForCows I struggle to believe that second shan market sabotage. Because surely if that was the case Nintendo software would also be problematic, and I don't think it has ever been difficult to get a Nintendo developed game since past the nes for the most part.

    Admittedly I so rarely buy Nintendo games day one I'm hardly the right person for this point.
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  • Avatar for Pentagen #15 Pentagen 11 months ago
    The most sensible hypothesis I've read is that Nintendo needed more of its manufacturing resources for making Switches, so the NES Classic Edition had to be discontinued.

    I don't have any inside information and I doubt that anyone who previously brought up this idea does either, but it's the best reason I've heard for why an in demand and probably extremely profitable item has been discontinued long before everyone who is willing to pay for one has one.
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  • Avatar for paulhurt95 #16 paulhurt95 11 months ago
    Nintendo hate you.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #17 nadiaoxford 11 months ago
    @neostryder You know what, if Nintendo just came out and said as much, I bet people would be a bit more sympathetic. Especially if it assured people it was trying to secure the part elsewhere. Not the Big N's style, I guess.
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  • Avatar for TerryTrowbridge #18 TerryTrowbridge 11 months ago
    Here's hoping for a Gameboy Classic and SNES Classic!
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  • Avatar for yuberus #19 yuberus 11 months ago
    My pure speculation: either Nintendo lost the rights to some third party games (with a license expiring) in North America, or they want to bring a new edition out that's harder to hack.
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  • Avatar for warmrome #20 warmrome 11 months ago
    Let's all cross our fingers for an SNES classic this holiday season.
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  • Avatar for johnsefton47 #21 johnsefton47 11 months ago
    I will never every buy a Nintendo product again just out of principle.
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  • Avatar for Mega_Matt #22 Mega_Matt 11 months ago
    I'm disappointed. I was hoping supply would eventually catch up with demand and I'd be able to find one, but I guess that's not gonna happen.
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  • Avatar for chipfreedom52 #23 chipfreedom52 11 months ago
    Deleted March 4000 by Unknown
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  • Avatar for RushDawg #24 RushDawg 11 months ago
    Isn't it obvious why Nintendo's discontinuing production? They want consumers to purchase a readily available Switch and buy these games off of its robust Virtual Console service. Wait.....

    Also, that baby joke was super dark Nadia.....
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  • Avatar for warmrome #25 warmrome 11 months ago
    Remember when people thought you'd be able to find these things in the impulse buy section near the registers at Walgreens?
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  • Avatar for matt-b #26 matt-b 11 months ago
    People do realize that there are still multiple ways to play literally every single game on this system right? Is it just the convenience or the aesthetic of it that drives people bonkers? Heck, buy a raspberry pi and house it inside of an actual NES.

    Edit: I can see the value of all the games for only $60 and it is a drag that you'll pay more for them any other way.Edited April 2017 by matt-b
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #27 Jonnyboy407 11 months ago
    @nadiaoxford as mr parish once said "Nintendo sees transparencey as a terrible affliction that only happens to other people"

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  • Avatar for docexe #28 docexe 11 months ago
    Sigh… You know, if the NES Classic was indeed originally intended to be a “limited edition” product (which I suppose it’s possible considering how few of them were produced in the initial run), Nintendo should have stated that since the beginning and market the product as such.

    Mind you, that wouldn’t have prevented the issue with the scalpers or the frustration and heartbreak of people who were unable to find one. But at least it would have made the issue of the limited supply more understandable. As things stand, this will only sow more resentment from a lot of people.
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  • Avatar for docexe #29 docexe 11 months ago
    I remember some other commenter once mentioning that Nintendo’s recurrent supply issues with hardware and other products were the result of how their supply chain operations are structured. Apparently, incurring in excess of unsold inventory carries a major logistic cost for them, which is why they prefer to forecast and manufacture in limited quantities even at the risk of not fulfilling demand.

    I honestly don’t know if that’s true (and even then, it still would represent a very serious problem for customers, although one that might not be easy for the company to solve), but I find that explanation more believable than the recurrent theories that Nintendo deliberately limits supply to create the impression of artificial scarcity, to keep second hand market prices high, that they are malicious Machiavellians that don’t have any respect for their customers whatsoever, or that they (a company with such a long trajectory) are really that bad at predicting demand.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #30 TheWildCard 11 months ago
    LOLtendo. Scalpers might have made more money than Nintendo themselves did.
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  • Avatar for ryanbarrett63 #31 ryanbarrett63 11 months ago
    cry cry cry cry. Get a Retropie and enjoy life.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #32 VotesForCows 11 months ago
    @docexe You're probably right - the explanation is likely pretty mundane!
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  • Avatar for bigbadboaz #33 bigbadboaz 11 months ago

    May well be true; no one on the outside will ever really know.

    You'd think they would have figured out/invested in better ways of doing things by now, no? I mean, this type of operational logistics would probably trace back to NES (original) shortages in like 1987! The company was the single most monstrous force in the industry by then. Not evolving to reflect their stature and RESOURCES over all this time isn't really excusable.
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  • Avatar for neostryder #34 neostryder 11 months ago
    @nadiaoxford Sadly, no. =( I didn't manage to get one, even with my contact at Nintendo.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #35 link6616 11 months ago
    @docexe this is also probably a huge factor.

    I recall Atlus talking about a similar thing back before digital distribution, in that one excessive printing could well kill the company, which is why they generally put out low print runs.

    For a company Nintendo's size I think they could endure the costs more. But who knows, maybe they can't.
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  • Avatar for Rosydey6 #36 Rosydey6 11 months ago
    Waiting for NES classic this holiday.
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