Oh, Nintendo… (SNES Classic Edition)

Every time I think about Nintendo’s supply chain issues, I immediately get this in my head:

I love Nintendo. The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was the first time (outside of an arcade) I could play games at will. A friend from school had an Atari 2600 (and an entire steamer trunk full of cartridges), but I was rarely allowed to go to her house. Another friend’s dad had a Commodore and some games that he generously allowed us to play. And a colleague of my parents (whose office was right next to their first studio) used to allow me to use his fancy computer (for the time, at any rate) to play games via cassette tape.

But the NES was the first system that was mine. It was the first time I was able to play games whenever I wanted (within reason, of course).

I, like many other kids of the time, only ever had a handful of games. I received my NES with Super Mario Bros. 2 as well as the pack-in cartridge: Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt/World Class Track Meet. Over the next year, I received Bubble Bobble, Tetris, and Super Mario Bros. 3. I think I only ever owned maybe six games for the system, and rented the rest. I recall getting Final Fantasy as a gift, feeling hopelessly lost, and eventually giving up. I was so disappointed, as I rarely got a new game, and I felt either I failed the game, or the game failed me, and, either way, disappointment was had.

But I have digressed long enough.

Basically, I have wonderful memories of the NES. So when the NES Classic was announced, I knew I had to have it. It had so many games I’d always wanted and never had, and the idea of putting it next to my original NES greatly appealed to me.

It was hard as hell to find, of course, and, were it not for some sort of Christmas miracle, I wouldn’t have seen one of my own.

Now, we all remember how ridiculous the supply chain for the NES Classic was. It was pretty laughable. The grey market found people selling them for huge mark-ups. Nintendo said they would make more. How many more? We’ll never know.

Then they announced they were halting production.

Of course they were.

Classic Nintendo. It reminded me immediately of the supply issues with the Wii back in the day, and, most recently, with Amiibo.

So when the SNES Classic was announced, I felt wary. Nintendo said they were going to make more of them than the NES Classic.

Great.

They announced that pre-orders would happen late in August and the system itself would release in September (29th, to be exact). Good, good.

I make most of my video game related purchases from Amazon, so when the SNES Classic was announced, I signed up to be notified when it could be pre-ordered.

Fast forward to Monday night.

I was puttering around taking care of things when I happened to look at Twitter. I don’t often look at Twitter, so it was fortuitous I did when I did. Turned out, at that time, Best Buy had opened pre-orders for the system.

I’ve never placed an order for anything from my phone, but I wasn’t near my computer and I decided to try. I was successfully able to place my pre-order for the system. Minutes later, I saw that people were already unable to do so.

I was entirely fortunate to get in that narrow window to pre-order one.

Later that night, I read Amazon had opened pre-orders. I went over to Amazon just to see what the situation was, and they had already closed orders. I never heard so much as a peep from Amazon.

So much for signing up for notifications.

It’s hard not to feel like Nintendo is already botching the release of the SNES Classic. Opening pre-orders with various retailers (seemingly staggered) in the literal middle of the night without prior announcement is poor form, particularly when they knew so many people wanted this system. Never mind how many people ordered multiples of the system just to sell at escalated prices. It honestly bums me out. I always want people to be able to play the games (and, in this case, systems) they are interested in.

I never had a Super Nintendo. I’d always wanted one. This felt like my point of entry to that era, which was one that I wholly missed out on. I’m so grateful I got my pre-order in (and completely by luck/chance), but I feel for so many people who did not.

I ask myself: when will Nintendo learn? Will they learn? I do wonder how many of their supply issues come down to forced demand. The Switch has been doing incredibly well, but people are still having a hard time finding one. After the disastrous Wii U, why would you not want to make your current system readily available? Hardware is only as good as its software, but you can’t do anything with software without that system. If someone wants one, I think Nintendo should make it the highest priority to get one into the hands of every paying customer.

Time and again I feel like we see Nintendo doing this: janking up the supply chain. They have been around long enough to have figured this out by now. I love Nintendo as much as the next person, but I do wonder how long that goodwill will carry them before people start to protest their strange supply practices.

How do you feel about Nintendo’s frequent supply and demand issues? Do you feel like they employ forced demand? How do you feel about these issues in general? Were you able to pre-order a SNES Classic? Will you try to buy one? I’m curious how other people see these situations.

12 replies »

  1. I haven’t owned a Nintendo product since the Wii, but it still makes me angry to see so many people wanting their stuff, but not being able to get one because Nintendo doesn’t bother making enough. There’s no reason for them not to. None.

    That being said – I didn’t really care about the NES mini… it was cool, sure, but there were only like two or three games I would ever have played.

    I would have LOVED one of the SNES ones though. But the chances of me being available for the correct five minute period that they’re available are so astronomically low that I decided it wasn’t even worth the trouble. So I’ve just kind of given up hope that I’ll actually ever see one.

    Nintendo must not want my $60. And don’t even get me started on the people who buy groups of them and then resell them for ridiculous profits. I see people try to justify it all the time – screw you, you’re worse than Nintendo is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I very much agree. These supply issues have gone on long enough. How they haven’t learned, or amended their processes by now, is beyond me.

      Hopefully they get more stock available and you get one. I will keep my eye out if you like?

      And weirdly, the NES Classic was $60 but the SNES Classic is $80. With the extra mark up, I hope they make more available.

      I REALLY don’t care for the grey market. Scalpers are the worst. I wanted a second controller for my NES Classic and tried to find one everywhere. I ended up having to pay $40 for a $10 controller just to get one. I was not thrilled about that, but I wanted to be able to play two player games.

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  2. My big issue is not having to wait a few months to find a Switch but rather missing out on an opportunity to -ever- have the SNES Classic. Maybe they’re trying to introduce a Disney Vault like system. The Disney Vault, by the way, is the most wonderful place to spend the Fallout apocalypse. Until it’s not. Then it’s the most horrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you. But I doubt they are doing a vault situation. They keep reassuring people they are making more than the NES Classic, but they’ve never said they are making a limited amount overall. I wouldn’t put it past them to do something like that, though.

      The Disney Vault must be AMAZING.

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  3. If Nintendo wasn’t gonna keep up with supply and demand for the SNES Classic they shouldn’t have even made the console in the first place

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is maddening. I put a reminder in my calendar to check for pre-orders, and even then I missed the window. I deigned to be a responsible dad and go to bed at a decent hour. Nintendo’s answer to that was: “too bad! We are going release pre-orders in the dead of night so all you people who actually sleep will miss out! Good luck with the eBay scalpers!”

    I joke, but I am actually pretty mad about this. I will try to go to Target on launch day, but again I will have to take the kids to school first. Through sheer luck I was able to go to Target on launch day and get the NES classic, but I was mortified by the huge line that was there, EVEN BEFORE OPENING HOURS. There is very little chance I will get it this time.

    There is no other company I can think of that makes it so difficult to get their products. I might have to rethink how much I support Nintendo after this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It IS maddening. I feel like Nintendo is only further shooting themselves in the foot. They must not like satisfied fans and bales of cash.

      I really hope you are able to find one at Target, but this whole thing is a larger issue for sure. I mean, think about people like us who keep up on gaming news and such. We KNOW when this is going to be available for pre-order and for sale. If even WE can’t reliably pre-order/buy the system, how will other people have a chance? And don’t even get me started on scalpers. I know people do it to make money, but it really cheeses me.

      I’m right there with you. If Sony or Microsoft did this they would be vilified.

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  5. I had no hopes of Nintendo learning their lesson from the NES mini so I put all thought of ever getting a SNES mini out of my head. Would it have been nice to have them, absolutely, but I refuse to play their game of forced scarcity: because that’s exactly what it is. This system only caters to the grey market and no amount of excuses about supply and demand is going to convince me otherwise because there’s no company in existence that wouldn’t try to match the demand for their product even if it took more time to do so.

    Here’s what I would have done if I were the head of Nintendo: When I announce the SNES mini I would also say that there will be a two week window for preorders giving the consumer base a reasonable amount of time to order from wherever they choose thereby having a solid number of initial demand and a hopefully reasonable amount of time to produce the amount. Also, let people know that if supply isn’t enough to cover the initial demand, let them know that their preorder is still valid. Waiting may not be ideal for some, but at least you’re still able to obtain it.

    I’ve been a Nintendo fan since the beginning but I can’t stand these the practices Nintendo has engaged in over the past few years. If there was anyone in the upper management of Nintendo that had any sense they’d fire whoever keeps doing this because they are literally throwing away money for no reason; if I were a shareholder I’d demand it. If it were Microsoft or Sony, there’s no way the fanbase would tolerate jumping through as many hoops and continually being treated as poorly as Nintendo fans are. Say what you will about them, at least you’ll be able to purchase one of their products.

    For all I’ve said, the potential for the fanbase to turn against Nintendo might be the highest with the SNES mini. Star Fox 2 better be available on the Virtual Console of at least one other console or else the s***storm that follows will be astronomical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it disappointing that that is the way it is? That you can’t even count on a company like Nintendo to create and actually deliver a product to paying consumers. It’s pretty rotten, honestly.

      I do wish they had a similar system to what you’re talking about. I wish people had to pay up front but that everyone who wanted one, would get one in turn. Even if that meant waiting several months.

      I agree. Sony and Microsoft would never get away with this kind of thing, and certainly not repeatedly. I hope Nintendo takes note of the fans’ reaction.

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      • It’s more disappointing that Nintendo is a company that will continually do this and then lie REPEATEDLY to their consumer base, yet there are still an astonishing number of Nintendo fans that continually enable this and have no end of excuses attempting to justify it. On absolutely no level of good business tactics does any of this make sense, yet this is what continually occurs.

        In the end I’m left with one question: Who is the NES/SNES mini for? It’s either for hardcore Nintendo fans that have bought these games multiple times over already to have yet another bauble for playing retro Nintendo games, the casual/non gamer group that might have played these games back in the day but never continued gaming and this is a nice little piece of nostalgia. If it’s for the hardcore Nintendo fans, obviously they aren’t making enough since a large portion of their fanbase hasn’t been able to get them and these are people who you’ve mentioned have their ears close to the ground on gaming news. There’s zero chance a casual/non gamer is going to get it on launch day since they didn’t know about the preorder and supply will continue to be nonexistent. If Nintendo’s grand plan was to make their fanbase resentful and disappoint/annoy other potential consumers, then their strategy is working perfectly.

        While I agree with the thought of putting down a full price preorder in some regard, I think it might detract people who don’t have the cash readily available to do so. It would definitely dissuade the grey market though, maybe a partial or installment plan would work too.

        Sorry these comments get a little long-winded, but when it comes to Nintendo I can’t help but wonder what goes on in the executive meetings that makes them do the things they do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh it’s absolutely bad business, no argument from me there. It’s also baffling business. Why would they not want to make a grillion of them and roll around in the bales of merry cash? It’s deeply stupid. And you’re right: all it’s really doing is upsetting their fan base.

        That also makes sense for payments. Really I was just saying that anyone who wanted one should be able to buy one. Like a GameStop situation where a low dollar amount would hold the console. The more I see/hear scalpers say they don’t care and just want the extra money, the more frustrated I get.

        No worries! I’d far rather a longer message than a short one. This is why I started writing: to engage! :)

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