Nintendo, as is their policy, stumbled ass backwards into a ridiculously popular product. Their $60 NES Classic Edition was one of the hardest toys to find this holiday season, and the company, thinking that it would only appeal to only the most hardcore retro gamers and not, oh, I don’t know, everyone who grew up with a classic Nintendo Entertainment System, didn’t make enough to meet demand. So it became incredibly difficult to find them, and they’re still not easy to track down.
So it’s pretty surprising that today Nintendo announced that they’re discontinuing production in North America on the NES Classic Edition. In a statement to IGN, the company said:
Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year. We encourage anyone interested in obtaining this system to check with retail outlets regarding availability. We understand that it has been difficult for many consumers to find a system, and for that we apologize. We have paid close attention to consumer feedback, and we greatly appreciate the incredible level of consumer interest and support for this product.
Now I’m not some fancy-schmancy businessman, but I was under the impression that when people want your product, you keep making it until demand no longer outpaces supply. For Nintendo to pull the plug now makes me wonder what the future plans could entail.
For its part, the company says, “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,” but to me that seems to say that they stumbled into a popular revenue stream, and one that doesn’t conflict with their other products. It makes sense to stop selling Wii U when you’ve moved onto the Switch, but the NES Classic is going to a completely different group of consumers.
I’m curious to see how the company proceeds in the future. Do they intend to ramp up their virtual console for the Switch? Are they working on an NES Classic 2.0 with more games? Are they (fingers crossed) working on an SNES Classic Edition? It will be interesting to see how Nintendo as well as other companies proceed now that they know there’s a lot of demand for high-quality, plug-and-play retro gaming.