The will of exhausted gaming collectors has been heard. Less than three weeks ahead of the hotly anticipated launch of the SNES Classic Edition, Nintendo has extended the device’s production run. The $80 device, styled after a miniature Super Nintendo System and pre-loaded with 21 classic games, was initially only intended as a limited release for the 2017 holiday season.
In addition, Nintendo announced they will be producing a second run of the NES Classic next year – over a year after the device was suddenly discontinued. Currently, new NES Classic Editions can sell on EBay for upwards of $230 – a markup of over 300%. Scalpers have been a tremendous burden for fans looking to pick up one of these classic consoles. Pre-orders for the SNES Classic sold out within minutes, both online and in retail stores. Only six retailers committed to taking pre-sales, and obtaining one seemed to be a game of roulette.
Feeding The Frenzy
Today’s announcement marks a huge shift in how Nintendo seems to be selling the Classic line of mini-consoles. The NES Classic came about at a difficult time for Nintendo, during the last holiday season prior to the launch of the WiiU. With no new console games on shelves, the NES Classic was an easy way to keep the brand relevant by leaning on the past. Yet it also threatened to undervalue the company’s back catalog – cutting into future sales of those same games on newer devices. Thus, it’s understandable why the NES Classic was only planned for a limited runs. Nintendo would get a boost in the press from a hit device, and it would be gone by the time the Switch was ready to roll out.
But the desire of Nintendo fans could not be satiated. The NES Classic became a phenomenon, an object of desire that trumped its’ actual material value. Even the most casual Christmas shopper wanted one, leaving more potiental customers burned than Nintendo could ever anticipate. For the SNES Classic, Nintendo attempted to ease this pain by being more up front about the device’s limited status. This only fed the flame, a presumptive rage against the company for failing to meet demand.
By confirming that SNES Classics will be rolling off the line into 2018, Nintendo seems to have admitted that the genie can’t be put back in the bottle. The desire for these classic games in a modern package is too good to ignore, and any attempt to sell them piecemeal in the future will seem crass by comparison. Announcing a longer production run this early may also guard Nintendo from a storm of anger when their first shipment sells out in another matter of minutes.
Time will tell if Nintendo’s new plan works out. Even with a longer production run, there’s no guarantee when supply will start to even out with demand. After all, stores are only now starting to keep Switch units in stock for more than a day at a time – and that’s a console Nintendo actually intended to sell for more than three months.