Has Nintendo Ceased Production of the NES Classic Edition?

Nintendo is ceasing production and distribution of the NES Classic Edition, after only four months on the market – at least in Nordic countries.

According to Spillsjappa, a Norwegian retailer, they will receive their last shipment of the much sought-after NES Classic Edition in April. The news was relayed by Bergsala, the primary distributor of Nintendo products in Nordic countries and the Baltic States. The lack of supply means the retailer will not be able to complete orders they took for the device back in July 2016. There is no news as to whether this will affect other European countries or other global markets yet.

Below is a translation of the post from the retailer’s Facebook page:

“It’s official now. NES Classic has expired from [delivery] to Nordic Nintendo importer Bergsala AB.

This is tragic for us and our clients when they won’t receive order we let in July 2016. There will be deliveries in March and April and then it’s over 🙁

We will contact everyone standing in line with us and those who sat in line last will get the sad news by email first. We will still follow queue to the letter and of course those who are first at all times will get delivered first.

If this is true, it seems to be yet another baffling business decision by the seemingly out-of-touch Nintendo. As I mentioned in a previous post, the NES Classic would have made a perfect Christmas 2016 gift for many, had people only been able to get their hands on one. If demand for the product had been met, Nintendo would have made a killing. However, Nintendo has a history of marketing its products through manufactured scarcity. This gives the consumer the impression of a high demand for their products when in fact, it is the limited available supply which limits consumers from purchasing the product.

Demand for the NES Classic has been huge ever since its announcement and launch. The device has been extremely hard to come buy in stores, especially in the UK with demand outstripping supply in almost all regions.

In my opinion, the halt in production could be down to a number of reasons.

  1. Nintendo wants all possible mindshare devoted to its next console, the Nintendo Switch.
  2. Nintendo needs to free up its production capabilities for the Switch.
  3. Perhaps Nintendo is working the NES Classic’s succesor – the SNES Classic? *gasp*
  4. The NES Classic was sold at a loss at launch making it unsustainable to meet demand  without a price increase.

The fourth point seems very unlikely, as historically, Nintendo has sold its consoles at a profit at launch unlike its main competitors. Microsoft and Sony typically rely on software sales to bolster the profit of a console post launch, selling the initial hardware at a loss.

This news does seem contrary to a recent statement from Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima, who told investors: “We apologize to our consumers and retail partners for the inconvenience caused by product shortages… Some parts require time to procure, but we are working to increase production.” Now I’m no hardware engineer but surely the components inside the NES Classic can’t be that hard to produce considering it is designed to run software over two decades old?

Hopefully, this news will only affect a small number of countries, allowing Nintendo to concentrate production in its larger markets. Although considering Nintendo’s recent track record of questionable business decisions, we’ll have to wait and see.

I was one of the lucky few to get my hands on the NES Classic and I love it. I found mine in a small independent games store in Thailand. UK retailer CEX currently has some second-hand units in stock but are asking a whopping £110 for each one – more than double the RRP of £50.