The SNES Classic was announced yesterday. Nintendo sent out a press release, blasted social media, and created a huge amount of buzz in minutes. Unfortunately, buzz on the internet carries negativity with it. Specifically, people across the web were voicing their concern about being able to find one.
You can’t really blame people though. Nintendo botched the release of the NES Classic. They misjudged how popular the device would be and just plain didn’t make enough of them. This made it incredibly difficult for fans to get their hands on one. Scalpers, a constant problem for everyone, bought them up in droves only to sell them for double and sometimes triple the price. Eventually, Nintendo discontinued the device and frustrated even more people. Those fans came out of the woodwork today and were very vocal about how they didn’t think Nintendo would make enough.
I might get accused of being an irrational fan boy here, but I think there is actually reason to be optimistic about this. In fact, I think that there three reasons.
Change in Attitude
This is a new Nintendo we are dealing with. I know that Nintendo has historically been very quick to limit the supply of their consoles to the market. They do it in an effort to increase sales. But, they have just emerged from one of the company’s darkest hours. The Wii U was a commercial failure, and, while it did not put them even close to shutting down, it has put their back against the ropes. They have just started building momentum.
If we are going to assume they are smart enough to artificially produce demand for their items, then we have to also assume that they are smart enough to know that they shouldn’t do anything to hurt their momentum right now.
The NES Classic released during November. It was right in the middle of the Holiday shopping season and perilously close to the end of their fiscal year (which is the end of March each year). Nintendo has already confirmed in a statement to Polygon that they are committed to producing the device throughout the remainder of 2017 and that they will be producing a higher volume of units as well.
I don’t think that means they will be flooding the market with them, but the fact that they will be releasing more of them is a big deal. The fact that there is also more time before the end of the fiscal year also means that Nintendo could continue production into 2018 to help pad their numbers.
I have said this before, and I stand by it. I believe that Nintendo discontinued the NES classic because they realized, too late, that they were undercharging for the device. Scalpers were charging double, and sometimes triple, the cost of the NES Classic on Ebay and people were paying! There is no chance that Nintendo didn’t see that and consider charging more.
There is no way they could have raised the price on the original unit without making their fans angry. Nintendo fans are sensitive as it is, so raising the price would lead to riots. The only viable option being to sunset the offending product and replace it with one that is similarly inexpensive to make that they could charge more for.
The SNES Classic fits that bill perfectly. It is likely being made with some of the same hardware. The form factor (size and shape) are very similar as well. The software, with the exception of Star Fox 2, was all released more than 25 years ago. This means that software development costs would have been very low too. But, the value is made clear when you compare an $80 SNES Mini to a $300 Earthbound cartridge on Ebay.
Nintendo has to know that the SNES Classic could be the product of the year. All they have to do is get out of its way.