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.

JJ
Guest

The only — ONLY — explanation I can come up with is related to Nintendo Company Limited’s insular Kyoto corporate culture, combined with its irrational fear / hatred of piracy. As soon as it was discovered the NES Classic Edition could be easily hacked and have NES ROMs added by anyone with access to a PC, that was the death warrant for the system. Nintendo’s imaginary fantasy worldview wherein emulated ROMs haven’t been traded online for f***ing decades was shattered, and they would rather screw over all the fans who wanted an NES Classic Edition than enable even one single… Read more »

Kyle Pierce
Guest
Kyle Pierce

This is why it’s still morally okay to pirate Nintendo games.

Northern_Lights
Guest
Northern_Lights

As a really lucky person,I was able to land both the Classic and the Switch relatively early on. The Classic I was just walking through Target and saw a bunch of people carrying one around, I got the LAST one that day! The Switch, was a helluva a lot harder. I just called Gamestop off and on for about a 3 weeks. I work in the death industry… so naturally they came in while I was on a call and had a dead person in the back of the vehicle. Good luck… You may just need the luck of a… Read more »

David Everard
Guest
David Everard

I think the only place we’ll find a reason for the NES Classic’s cancellation is on a piece of paper, balled up and tossed into the bottom drawer of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door which reads “Beware The Leopard”

Chris Somethingson
Guest

I know several customers who would come into the GAME store I work in at least once a week to ask if there were any NES Mini Classics in. Some were standard nerds, others were like young parents looking to relive their childhood and try and introduce their kids to gaming.
Guess they’ll never get any and the scalpers win again, buying all the stock and now being able to sell them for like £300 each.

whiskytangofoxtrot
Guest
whiskytangofoxtrot

Nintendo knows that most of their success these days comes down to a small but extremely obsessive group of fans, and they’re doing what they can to feed that obsession. They’re trying to make the process of acquiring their products such a challenge in itself that nobody steps back enough to realize that their games really aren’t very good.

Joseph Estrada
Guest
Joseph Estrada

This seems like some jimquisition material right here.

sweetbabyroy
Guest
sweetbabyroy

Honestly all I care about at this point in regards to retro games is how bad Nintendo will bungle the Virtual Console once it’s unveiled for Switch. Most importantly, whether or not our games will transfer over and how large the library will be at launch.

Landy Alexander
Guest
Landy Alexander

The classic was always a temporary moneymaking scheme and way to hedge their bets in case the switch flopped. Now that the switch has shown it can sell millions of units, Nintendo wants to sell each of them Mario Bros 1 at $5 a pop of pure profit.

A cat in disguise
Guest
A cat in disguise

….They do realize that all this will do is make scalpers go out and buy them all up so they can sell them for double or triple their value. I imagine that’s part of the reason why they do this. Artificially restrict the product to create an overwhelming demand so that when they decide to yank it from shelves, they’ll have legions of people (mostly scalpers) going out to buy the useless shits. Scalpers will make a pretty penny on the resale market, Nintendo will get all the money in the world (because the relationship between Nintendo and its fans… Read more »

Mike Olsen
Guest
Mike Olsen

As a retailer, I honestly thought they discontinued it months ago. We just got our first shipment (of two whole bed’s!) since January last weekend. I guess it’s also our last shipment now.

Ezekiel Rage
Guest

Here’s how things work. Nintendo does NOT artificially restrict supply. What Nintendo does is produce a conservative estimate of units they think they can sell and then sell each unit at a profit to ensure they don’t lose money on the product and thats why supply is always so damn low. They simply poker low, is all. As for the NES Classic Mini, it is discontinued PROBABLY (and I have no evidence, just hearsay from a few people I know) because they re-thought their Virtual Console strategy after the success of the system and are now preparing to launch the… Read more »

Adam Robert Sherman
Guest
Adam Robert Sherman

Well, glad I never got a Switch, then.

I do need to finish my Gen III dexes.

tom
Guest
tom

Nintendo of Japan heads will always place their complete and paranoid control of their products, over their fans. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. That is their record. If they can’t ultimately control the product in their mind, then they will shut it down. I’ve lost count how much contempt Nintendo has for its fans, and can’t believe they have so many defenders/apologists of their awful business practices. Fuck Nintendo so hard. I’ve been calling them to go hardware extinct for ages. When they play by the also bad other publisher rules, then maybe they won’t be as horrible. But It’s no real… Read more »

Joao Oliveira
Guest
Joao Oliveira

I honestly can’t see what the big deal is. If they don’t want to sell more,then they don’t sell more.

Gaboris
Guest
Gaboris

Hmmm… Okay I’m a bit torn right now.
Here in Hungary it seems that a lot of online retailers are still selling them, but I can’t decide if I really need it.

I checked on it last month. It was around 24.000Ft (80$) and that price was really promising so I thought I’ll wait a bit, but for some reason two weeks ago prices jumped by 10.000Ft (30-40$) and now I’m not sure if it’s worth to spend that much when I’m not even a devoted fan of Nintendo classics. :/

Leodluffy81
Guest
Leodluffy81

In my opinion it is because they realsised when people can hack the thing to get every game ROM on there, their Nintendo plus service is going to be pretty shi**y when all the games they have stockpiled that they wanted to give away free for a month at a time are useless because they are already available on the classic fairly easily

BiggusDisqus
Guest
BiggusDisqus

Something to consider: many long years ago, when the 360, Wii, and PS 3 were coming out, the exact opposite of what we’re seeing now occurred. Sony made a pitiful number of PS 3s and crowed about selling out while Nintendo made enough Wiis to meet the Christmas market and was rolling in cash.

I wonder if a few marketing heads from Sony were kicked out and found new homes at Sony’s competitor. Just a thought.

Powermad80
Guest
Powermad80

Best theory I’ve heard is that renewing the contract for the factories that were making these things was too expensive for a product that was clearly just designed to fill the holiday season gap for them. They don’t own their own factories, just buy manufacturing time and it might be just too expensive to run it any further.

SirRichard
Guest
SirRichard

“The numbers in which these items are shipped are too pathetically small to make sense otherwise.”

I argue that it does make sense…kind of. Hearken back to the

Chicken008
Guest
Chicken008

Only reason I can see is if a NES Classic 2 is coming, or some better version of this plug and play console.
Either that or Nintendo really is just stupid.

greyXstar
Guest
greyXstar

I’m still not convinced it’s actually a real product. I’ve never seen one anywhere. Not even a controller.

Here’s a TV that looks like an apple.

SirBruceX
Guest
SirBruceX

“.. bringing to a particularly territory”

ngwoo
Guest
ngwoo

Maybe they didn’t realize they could copy roms to the system instead of moving them and kept hitting their monthly data cap redownloading them all over and over from torrent sites.

Amy
Guest
Amy

I really think that someone making decisions at Nintendo just wants to go back to being that smaller Japanese only focused toy manufacturer hence things like Xenoblade and Animal crossing taking ages to get worldwide releases, they only care about what their Japanese market wants and are almost actively annoyed at getting success in other markets