What’s Nintendo’s Fucking Problem?

The NES Classic is getting killed off… and Nintendo won’t say why.

I can’t say I’m surprised to learn Nintendo abruptly discontinued the ridiculously popular NES Classic while it was still a hot-ticket item. By now, none of us should feel even the slightest threat of shock when Nintendo does something incomprehensible to anybody outside of Nintendo.

Nevertheless, I remain intensely curious about the company’s love of obstructing customers when they want to give it money. While other publishers do their utmost to make it insidiously easy to fork over more cash, Nintendo occasionally pulls moves that have zero visible benefit.

So yes, Nintendo suddenly revealed that the NES Classic Edition – its popular and ludicrously understocked throwback system – would discontinue despite sales of over 1.5 million and a struggle to satisfy customer demand that continues to this day. Many people still want and can’t find this thing, yet the company behind it thought now was the time to axe the sucker.

“Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year,” the company told IGN. “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.”

It’s a bit of a “fuck you” as far as statements go. To actively acknowledge the difficulty your customers have had while glibly announcing your lack of interest in alleviating said difficulty comes off almost sarcastically, like the whole existence of the NES Classic in America is some sort of joke at the expense of the company’s audience.

We have of course talked about Nintendo’s infamous inability to supply according to demand. While it was especially bad with the Classic, the more recent release of the Nintendo Switch saw canceled preorders and even a drought of Pro Controllers, all of which only helped scalpers on eBay make a profit for themselves as they jacked up the costs beyond Nintendo’s already dodgy pricing.

Indeed, scalpers seem to be the ones who benefit most from anything Nintendo makes. Be they NES Classics, Pro Controllers, or amiibo, the company’s failure to supply has reaped dividends for those quick and shameless enough to snap up the goods and flip them for a tidy profit.

While some call it a conspiracy theory, I still believe Nintendo does this on purpose to drum up anticipation and boast of sellout successes in the same manner as toy manufacturers. The numbers in which these items are shipped are too pathetically small to make sense otherwise.

Nevertheless, I’m at a loss to come up with a thread of logic governing the Classic’s discontinuation.

The best theory floating around is that Nintendo of America doesn’t want to slow the momentum of the Switch, which has recently become a record breaking success for the company.

It would have maybe made sense if the Switch hadn’t broken records while the NES Classic was still a thing. Instead, it looks like Nintendo had two successful pieces of hardware on the market and arbitrarily decided to kill one of them.

You can be sure that, despite appearances, the decision is not arbitrary. There is a reason buried somewhere in the mangled collective brain of Nintendo’s upper management. What it is, I haven’t got a fucking clue, but I’d really like to know.

There’s an old memetic joke that Nintendo hates money, and while it is just a joke, sometimes you look at the company’s behavior and wonder. This is, after all, a company that not only refuses to localize certain games, but will actively fight attempts to import said games. This is a clear case of Nintendo going out of its way to stop items being sold, items it may never have any intention of bringing to a particularly territory.

One of the most famous examples of this was Animal Crossing. It took two fucking years for the original game to make it to Europe after it had already hit North America, and Nintendo was determined to do everything in its power to stop Europeans buying it, cracking down on importers who tried to sell the thing.

Nintendo is a company that lets you know when your money is quite literally not good enough.

Still, at least Nintendo eventually decided the whole world was allowed to have Animal Crossing. Other games haven’t been so lucky, or needed massive exterior pressure to get a chance.

Captain Rainbow‘s time has almost certainly passed outside of Japan, and do you remember how hard people fought to get Xenoblade released out here? That game Nintendo of America only published in a limited run after a massive fan campaign? The game that ended up so beloved it got not only a sequel, but a 3DS port and an all-new Switch game that Nintendo of America proudly presented?

If Nintendo doesn’t hate money, it certainly seems to have a blind spot for the stuff.

You’ll notice this article offers no solutions, no insights, not much else but a bit of venting. That’s really all I’ve got for you, if I’m quite honest. I just need to continue sharing my sustained state of gobsmacked confusion when it comes to this corporation and the things it does.

I just want to know what Nintendo’s fucking problem is.

John Thomas
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John Thomas

Hey, I’m fine with this decision. To be honest, I was kind of struggling with if I should buy a Switch, or continue to save up for a new laptop instead. Now I have my answer: Never buy a new Nintendo product ever again! Thanks, NOA!

RipTide
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RipTide
My guess is that this ties into Nintendo under supplying everything. It seems to me they like to only start out with limited production runs on hardware, if they sell out, ramp up production, if not then they don’t have a lot of excess hardware lying around. The classic may have existed as basically free money for Nintendo but the profit they make off of a classic is nowhere near as much as they make off of a Switch. So now the initial production run of the Switch has sold out so they gotta start trying to make more. So… Read more »
SaburoDaimando
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SaburoDaimando

On a side note, Sony and Microsoft need to take a cue from Nintendo and start manufacturing shortages of their systems.

Chris Nicholas
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Chris Nicholas

We definitely need a phrase for Nintendo shenigans. We have Fuckonami and Oh, Ubisoft… ^_^

Fun fact, Fuckonami was not autocorrected by my phone, meaning it’s an officially recognised English word!

Adam Allen
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Adam Allen

i think you could just leave it at WTF Nintendo

Chris Nicholas
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Chris Nicholas

I like! Or Retardendo i just thought up!

EiM
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EiM

Hey, that’s offensive. Don’t you know it isn’t cool to use the R word anymore? Seriously, are you retarded or some…

Oh, crap.

James LaValle
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James LaValle

“NintenDOH”?

shogun0110
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shogun0110

I think they live up to the nickname Sega gave them “Nintendon’t”.

Appretaur
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Appretaur

In an earlier comment section, I brought up “I Nintendon’t Understand…”

darksteel6
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darksteel6

I like NintenD’oh! myself.

Appretaur
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Appretaur
This is going to sound like I’m using this story to benefit my own shade-throwing at unconnected Nintendo issues, but I promise that I’ve never forgotten this bit since it happened three years ago: The way the Mewtwo DLC for Smash Bros. 4 was announced. After Mewtwo was announced to return to the game after the 3DS version’s launch, there was a failure on Nintendo’s part to clarify – until the very eve of the Wii U version’s launch – that the Mewtwo DLC was not, in fact, *only* available as a “free” bonus for buying both system versions, and… Read more »
WeightGain4000
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WeightGain4000

so what it boils down to is that nintendo’h still doesn’t understand that kids don’t wanna play fucking balloon fight in 2017. different target audiences, different products.

TheGreenGarden is Slipstream
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TheGreenGarden is Slipstream

Okay I’ve never understood this. Like people realize kids and people who didn’t live during the NES era aren’t a high mind right and are actually able to like NES and other older games right? Like people enjoy different things right and can enjoy and appreciate older films, games, shows, book etc?

WeightGain4000
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WeightGain4000
I would generally agree with that notion, but there are a few particularities the NES Classic has that really work against it. Look at the game collection; apart from a handful of games (the mario games, kirby, maybe tecmo bowl and the zeldas), most of these games are not just old, but they are also mechanically rather archaic and REALLY fucking hard. In order to be able to still enjoy these, one would need to a) have grown up with them or b) have enough maturity to be able to appreciate those old games and their mechanics in spite of… Read more »
VoidOfOne
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VoidOfOne

I was never a fan of Nintendo. Can’t say they’ve done anything to make me change my mind, especially with this.

Anton
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Anton

They have some very good franchises. Unfortunately, those franchises are tied to Nintendo’s monster corporate management.

VoidOfOne
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VoidOfOne

I know many people like their franchises. I just haven’t been all that interested since Link’s Awakening.

Anton
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Anton

If there is ever another Golden Sun game, I will run out and buy a Switch that same day.

Miles Saintborough
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Miles Saintborough

I’ll get another Golden Sun game that is not a rehash of the previous ones. Dark Dawn was a major letdown. The story was ok, but the gameplay was pretty much the fucking same as before, only with 3D models.

Anton
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Anton

That’s true. 2 was amazing though.

Andrew Christianson
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Andrew Christianson

Dark Dawn was a major letdown, YES.

VoidOfOne
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VoidOfOne

Don’t do that to yourself. You deserve better…
Then again, who doesn’t deserve another Golden Sun? It was dumb it ended on a cliffhanger, though.

Anton
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Anton

I think they were planning to continue it past Dark Dawn, but that game bombed.

VoidOfOne
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VoidOfOne

I get that much. But my point still stand, especially for any game.
Don’t end your games on cliffhangers. There’s no guarantee the next game is coming.

SavingPrincess
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SavingPrincess

People really need to stop thinking of Japan as they would an American company. They will never do “what makes them the most money” because that’s not how they have EVER operated. They have a plan, they stick to that plan, and that plan is 100% focused on Japan.

NOA/NOE have almost no input on “plan-level” decision making. Nothing NCL does will make sense to an American consumer.

Miles Saintborough
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Miles Saintborough

And that’s what pisses everyone off. Nintendo keeps treating the rest of the world like Japan. Business does not work that way!

James LaValle
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James LaValle

Actually, this is the exact opposite of the problem; Nintendo treats the rest of the world like nothing else exists outside of Japan. They focus all their efforts on maintaining and drumming up sales in Japan, but are utterly clueless and/or don’t give a shit about making it convenient for anybody else outside their bubble to enjoy their games. They literally don’t care about anybody except Japanese audiences.

Miles Saintborough
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Miles Saintborough

Some people joke that the developers of Final Fantasy XI and XIV only listen to the Japanese audience, but now I wonder if that’s true.

Anton
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Anton

Is this a good thing?

SavingPrincess
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SavingPrincess

Doesn’t matter. Not the point of my statement. People seem “confused” as to why Nintendo does things.

Whether it’s “good” or “bad” is a different conversation. I’m merely giving context to the first part.

Anton
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Anton

It sort of matters, because that’s bad business. It’s like saying that I’m going to shoot myself in the foot repeatedly, because I’ve always done it and I’m going to stick with tradition.

SavingPrincess
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SavingPrincess

It’s not bad business though. They sold through their entire shipment. They had a successful product. They’ve moved on. They aren’t NOT making money. They are being successful.

If you’re walking to a place, and someone says “hey mate, you should try jogging, you’ll get there faster” but you’re still reaching your destination… you might respond with “I’m good with walking, thanks.”

darksteel6
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darksteel6

like it or not we live in a global market, if Nintendo only focuses on Japan, it WILL come back to bite them in the ass sooner or latter.

SavingPrincess
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SavingPrincess

No, they will just shut down the NOA/NOE markets and focus exclusively on Japan in that instance. The way they structured the company, they can do that easily. Their operating costs are per-region. It’s not like Sony or Microsoft. Sony needs the US market to remain profitable… Nintendo does not. If the US/Euro Market tanks, they stop distributing in those regions and Japan remains unaffected. Few people in Japan would lose a job even (mostly at the managerial level) and NCL goes on business as usual.

It’s a gross-oversimplification but hopefully it sheds light on how they operate globally.

darksteel6
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darksteel6

Japan’s market could easily shift to the point where they no longer need Nintendo though, they might switch over entirely to mobile gaming. Nintendo’s shortsighted decision won’t keep them afloat forever, this is starting to remind me of how Marvel’s constant bad decisions led to them filing for bankruptcy in the mid 90s.

Uldi
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Uldi

~dons tinfoil hat~ Someone in their marketing department gets a bonus for high demand, while a person in sales gets kickbacks from Japanese retailers? When one or the other drops, they kill (or try to kill) the product?

But seriously, I’ve started to suspect that it’s marketing companies working with Japanese publishers that are the reason the Japanese are so reluctant to back streaming and YouTube. It’s free publicity, and that threatens their jobs.

RetroNomad
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RetroNomad

Me: Hey there Nintendo! I’m a long time retro collector and also an emulator user. I’m SUPER interested in this product you have here and am willing to pay you many shmeckles for it despite my know how of emulation, Pi’s and NES Rom hacking on various platforms.
Nintendo: We’re stopping production despite demand.
Me: But… I have money and want to give it to you rather than hack a new Psp or build a Pi…
Nintendo: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

A Roast Beef Sandwich
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A Roast Beef Sandwich

You heard it here first guys: Nintendo wants the only way to get its old games to be pirating them.

Landy Alexander
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Landy Alexander

No, they want you to wait patiently for them to become available on the virtual console and then buy them for $5-10 a piece.

Gregory McIntyre
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Gregory McIntyre

been waiting a decade for some of them on the 3ds though. I’m done waiting.

TheMagicLemur
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TheMagicLemur

People in Hell want ice water.

Miles Saintborough
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Miles Saintborough
At this point, Nintendo needs to go through a total company restructure because to this very day, they still do shit that only makes sense in Japan but is pants on head retarded everywhere else. One thing that always bugged me is how they always make their games with features or even core game components that relies on other people, whether a direct link or just passing by. This is fine for Japan since the population is packed like sardines, but outside of that, anyone not living in a major city can go fuck themselves for living in a small… Read more »
SaburoDaimando
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SaburoDaimando

Ironically, the Western companies are no better since they happen to treat their employees like trash.

Misha
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Misha

You don’t think Japan doesnt either? Just the other day an animator died of overwork, and working crazy amounts of overtime is par for the course there. The work culture in Japan is godawful.

The difference is that Japan has crazy strict firing laws, so they can’t just fire anyone for whatever reason they feel like.

Miles Saintborough
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Miles Saintborough

Yeah I think Jim pointed that out when it came to an insider describing the hell that was working for Konami. Apparently, firing someone is a huge deal in Japan and many look at companies negatively for it, so the bigwigs get creative in trying to force its workers to quit.

Misha
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Misha

Yep! Burden of proof is on the company so you have to prove in a court of law that you have legit reasons for firing someone or else u get countersued aka no one wants to deal with that shit

but like everything in japan, the laws have more holes in them then a slice of swiss cheese

Miles Saintborough
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Miles Saintborough

You could say those companies are Nintendo for adults. Different spiel, same bullshit.

TheGreenGarden is Slipstream
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TheGreenGarden is Slipstream

Also how many games are on the VC on the Switch?

Also, by Jan next year, for Switch owner, would you say the console would be worth getting then?

Scaper
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Scaper

You need to start a post-jimquisition segment for all this stuff. Nintendo gives you plenty of content to roll our eyes at.

Jasper Theo
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Jasper Theo

*Barf noise* NintendOh, Ubisoft…

Whatthefnu
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I want to hate them for this, but I’ve heard two plausible theories as to why this happened: 1. Production costs. I read an article on this subject a while back that parsed out how much this thing cost to make. I wish I could find it again, but essentially, at $60, there was no way they were actually making money off the console, despite how well it sold. 2. Licensing. Specifically, Quota Licensing. Basically, companies like Konami and Capcom (who also had their games on the NES Classic) might have only backed up a limited production of units. Nintendo… Read more »
Andrew Christianson
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Andrew Christianson

They could say it honestly and not have people tearing their hair out getting pissed at them.

Chris Gallant
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Chris Gallant
Should you choose to you can have the entirety of the nes library including countless home brews and hacks on your phone, pc, or pi completely free yet people were still willing to pay for this. Why nintendo would do this is baffling but then again lets face it a very “nintendo” thing to do. I’ve heard others theorize some out of touch upper management found out you could hack it and axed the entire thing in an attempt to sell 30 year old games on the nintendo store for $2.99 or what ever. I think some old fart thinks… Read more »
TheGreenGarden is Slipstream
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TheGreenGarden is Slipstream
Also, Super Marion Bros 2 (USA not Lost Levels) is one of my favourite video games of all time. I never grew up with it as I was born in 1993 and didn’t play it until 2009, but I love it along with Street Fighter 3, Link to the Past, Final Fantasy 6, Megaman 3 (I’ve never been a believer that you “can’t get” a game if you didn’t grow up in it’s era. But I already have it and tons of other NES games for the Wii, I don’t need to buy them again and again like Nintendo wants… Read more »
TheGreenGarden is Slipstream
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TheGreenGarden is Slipstream

Not technically part of the discussion I know, just wanted to say it for a while.

RoanarTheFruitiful
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RoanarTheFruitiful

Only Nintendo…. literally, this is the only thing that I can think of which sums up this entire situation in two words…… only Nintendo

Jeffrey Vore
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Jeffrey Vore
“What is is, I haven’t got a fucking clue, but I’d really like to know.” Just pointing out a typo to a fellow writer, Jim. As for the article, I feel like the NES Classic was a cheap gimmick to begin with and this all probably does come down to cultural differences as well as Japan’s prejudice towards every other country ever. It’s why I don’t bat an eye when people accuse Hollywood of whitewashing Ghost in the Shell when Japan focuses every futuristic fantasy happening in Tokyo while they dress their characters in every mockup way possible. They are… Read more »
Anton
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Anton

It is kinda hilarious that so many of their character designs are pretty much white.

Jeffrey Vore
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Jeffrey Vore

Either that or a mashup of that and other races or cultures. For example, Motoko Kusanagi is a Japanese name, but the Major has a fully prosthetic body with blue eyes. A body that is explained as aesthetically stock, unoriginal to her. Let alone the possibility in that world that she could have been born a man and fully changed her identity. So when people get mad that they chose a white actress, they don’t realize how stupid their reactions are to the whole thing.

Man, I’ve been needing to say that for a while.

YoDude
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YoDude

Glad you got it out of your system.

Polishfury5000
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Polishfury5000

I was looking to grab one once the holiday buzz was over and if I saw one randomly on a shelf. I refuse to go hunting or camp out stores for anything game related.

My old NES and it’s carts have seen better days, so I guess I’ll just stick to emulators if Nintendo doesn’t want my money.

Geebun
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Geebun

At this point I think Nintendo just doesn’t like money. If they made some of their product easier to find and buy they would have gotten my money for : A Marth, Ike, Toon Zelda, Ocarina of Time Link and Smash Bros Rosalina amiibo, a copy of Code name STEAM(which was easy to find but since I couldn’t get any of the supported amiibos at that point decided to boycott) and maybe a NES mini. That’s about 200$ worth for one person and I’m sure I’m not the only one that could not buy everything they wanted from them.

ichkanns
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ichkanns

Do you want people to emulate, Nintendo? Because that’s how you get people to emulate.

I’m perfectly happy with my Raspberry Pi with Lakka installed and a bluetooth SNES controller. No 2 1/2 foot cable and limited library of games for me, I’m playing Seiken Densetsu 3 and Mario 64 on the same system.

tech3475
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tech3475

Nintendo will just point to the VC which they always somehow manage to **** up by either making it relatively expensive or not available (something Jim has complained about IIRC).

tech3475
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tech3475

I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s because to them it served it’s purpose (something to sell over Christmas) but it’s otherwise too cheap and they likely think cannibalising sales.

If someone wanted to buy the same games now, it would cost someone HUNDREDS more through the virtual console because they’d not only have to buy the games (AFAIK they’re around $5 each on the Wii U VC) but also the console which may also mean sales of other games and accessories.

TheGreenGarden is Slipstream
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TheGreenGarden is Slipstream

Out of curiosity, how much power does NOA have in Nintendo as a whole? Besides importing, what control, power and say do they have?

Also is the Famicom Classic discontinued as well now or was that just a rumor?

SavingPrincess
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SavingPrincess

“Out of curiosity, how much power does NOA have in Nintendo as a whole?”

Almost none, they are primarily a localization, marketing and distribution channel.

TheGreenGarden is Slipstream
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TheGreenGarden is Slipstream

Figures.

darkmage0707077
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darkmage0707077

Meh, they’ll keep doing it so long as people keep buying their crap. That’s apparently the only thing Nintendo understands or cares about now. And nobody’s willing to stop buying it, so this stupidity will keep on going.