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.
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.