Nintendo consistently under-supplies retailers with products that are certain to sell well. For a company that aims for a fairly wide audience including children, it seems intent on disappointing as many people as it can.
Last year Nintendo released the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) Classic Mini, something that everybody knew would be incredibly popular… everybody, except from Nintendo apparently.
Game Critic Jim Sterling explained this very well in his video here (Warning – very strong language and some adult imagery).
“There was no doubt that the NES classic is something a lot of people wanted, but supply did not meet demand. How far did the shipments fall of demand? you may ask.
Well, Amazon warned customers that the plug and play would be in stock for literal minutes, before remaining unavailable again for a very long time. Within 13 minutes Amazon announced they were all out.”
According to Sterling, many brick and mortar stores reported getting shipments in the single digits, which is an insanely small quantity for store shelves.
Toy manufacturers regularly under-stock desirable toys in order to create a sense of rarity. Each year between October and December there are one or two toys that every child wants, incidentally every year they are incredibly difficult to come by (think back to last year and the Hatchimal).
This stirs up news stories as well as much discussion about where you can find the latest hot ticket item, thus making the product more desirable because everyone wants the rare thing.
But when you get to January or February, shelves are quickly filled with the previously rare product. This is because the manufacturer wants to keep up with demand, as it is no longer worth it to create the scarcity. Nintendo seem to do a similar thing with many products, sometimes forgetting to make them available again for a very, very long time.
As I pointed out in my SNES mini review, things were a little better with this year’s hot Nintendo item – I was able to find one. I still haven’t actually heard of anyone being able to buy one after not pre-ordering one or paying over twice the retail price from someone on eBay or Amazon.
Nintendo has been pulling this nonsense for years. Their Amiibo toys, which are small figurines with game connectivity (much like Skylanders) were consistently understocked for most desirable characters, whilst Mario seemed to stay stocked. Inklings from Splatoon and many Pokémon characters were (and still can be) near impossible to find.
Incidentally, despite a few exceptions, Skylanders seem to be reliably in stock, proving that supplying the demand is, in fact, possible for different companies.
One solution to the understocking of the NES and SNES minis that many people recommend is the use of Emulators to download a version of the game onto your computer from the internet. This is, technically, illegal, as outlined by Nintendo’s own website,where they claim:
“The introduction of emulators created to play illegally copied Nintendo software represents the greatest threat to date to the intellectual property rights of video game developers.
As is the case with any business or industry, when its products become available for free, the revenue stream supporting that industry is threatened.”
So, for those who refuse to get these games through illegal means, you have a few options. Buy the original console and spend hundreds of pounds on consoles and games from decades ago which are notorious for being unreliable and breaking easily.
Or alternatively you could pay anywhere from £120 to £200 for one on Amazon or eBay… double the retail price.
Lots of people tend to play devil’s advocate for issues like this, claiming that Nintendo (an immense global company) simply could not supply the huge demand for this product.
I disagree with this because, according to Nintendo themselves, as of the 2016 financial year they had reported assets equivalent to around “$11,500,000,000”. They have the resources to supply almost any demand.
Personally, I cannot see a reason why Nintendo would constantly do this for products that will certainly be popular and will sell very well.
Even a year later the NES mini is out of stock, and according to rumours, won’t be available again until NEXT SUMMER (2018) – two years after initial release!
In my opinion, the only things Nintendo achieves by understocking products is a bad reputation and disappointed fans – something no company should repeat every year.
So here’s hoping that the next time Nintendo releases a Mini console like the N64, Game-Boy or –shudder- Virtual Boy, that they make enough so that those who want one, can bloody find one.