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UPDATE: In the months since Nintendo cancelled production of the NES Classic, many industry experts (including DealNews) speculated that the company was merely making room for another nostalgia console. Eurogamer has now confirmed this to be the case. The SNES Mini will reportedly feature 21 pre-loaded games — including Starfox 2, which has never been previously released. Additional titles include Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, F-Zero, and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Read on for our original coverage of Nintendo's suspiciously predictable behavior.
In a move that surprised fans and industry insiders alike, Nintendo recently announced it's discontinuing production of the NES Classic. The throwback console was already hard to find, but with this move, Nintendo has effectively made it an instant collector's item.
Unfortunately, this means that anyone who doesn't have one of these in-demand consoles will likely have to shell out a small fortune to get their hands on one. Though some units are still due to hit retail shelves soon, price drops are highly unlikely.
The worst part is we've seen this behavior from Nintendo before. Here's why we should have seen this coming.
Supply issues are a common problem with Nintendo. Some speculate that the company is either really bad at predicting demand, or this is all a marketing strategy. Polygon suggested that "either Nintendo is constraining supply, in order to drive hype and awareness and the allure of exclusivity — a holiday narrative as applicable to the NES Classic as it was for Tickle Me Elmo," or the market leader is "incompetent." And the second option seems questionable, to say the least.
What's more, Nintendo maintains a tight grip on its intellectual property. Many of its games aren't available cross-platform (you'll never play Mario on Xbox, for example), and there's a huge backlog of games that are only available on emulators or very old consoles these days. For nostalgic fans, the only legal way to play those games is via Nintendo-sanctioned re-releases of the sort that accompanied the NES Classic.
Nintendo built its brand on customer loyalty. Loyal fans are highly aware of the company's notorious supply problems, and are more than willing to jump on products the moment they're announced. Fans know that Nintendo products don't sit on shelves collecting dust, and so they snap them up as soon as they can.
Shoppers would do well to learn from the NES Classic, especially if you're not normally a Nintendo customer. This almost certainly won't be the last time we see supply problems. Fans probably remember how scarce the Wii was, even two years after its release.
More recently, the New Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL were practically impossible to find. These are products that were first released in 2015, and yet the only way to get your hands on one a couple of months ago involved paying exorbitant third-party markups.
With the success of the NES Classic, many are wondering why Nintendo would shut down production now. Some experts have mentioned the company's plans to double Switch production, while others have said the console wasn't profitable enough. There is, of course, another option.
Perhaps Nintendo is paving the way for another nostalgia-driven item. All the way back in 2016, CNET posited that we could see a Game Boy Micro, a Mini SNES, or even a Mini N64. The holiday season is still months away, so there's plenty of time to speculate!
Readers, are you disappointed by the sudden discontinuation of the NES Classic? Were you able to get your hands on one? Do you think Nintendo actually has trouble meeting demand, or is this a strategy? Sound off in the comments below!