In a stunning move, Nintendo recently confirmed they are ending production of the NES Classic Edition.
Since it launched in November, the NES Classic Edition has garnered a level of consumer demand Nintendo hasn’t really seen since the release of the Wii. The difference between those two consoles is that it took a little while for people to really desire the Wii, and the NES Classic Edition became a must-have the moment it was announced.
While many gamers recognized that there are better ways to play old NES games – including emulators and digital downloads – the NES Mini’s appeal had little to do with practicality. It was a way for people to welcome the NES back into their homes in a semi-modern way. Besides, the average consumer doesn’t typically bother with things like emulators.
What we know for sure is that Nintendo didn’t end production of the NES Classic because people stopped wanting it. Even retailers like Amazon couldn’t keep the system in stock for long. Meanwhile, third-party sellers on eBay were regularly raising the console’s price and watching as people bought them anyway with glee.
Nintendo’s decision to end one of the most popular devices on the market during the prime of its existence has triggered the usual reactions. Despair, confusion, anger, and a slight sense of humor that stems from people’s beliefs that Nintendo sometimes intentionally shoots themselves in the foot just to see how everyone will react.
In the case of the Classic Edition’s demise, however, you shouldn’t be so quick to blame Nintendo.
Nintendo might be infamous for making bizarre decisions regarding hardware supply, but there’s no good reason why even they would simply end the production of a console that sells the moment it hits shelves. It doesn’t make sense to generate desire for a console if you don’t plan on letting people actually buy it in the first place.
No, the demise of the NES Classic seems to be due to necessity. Given how successful the Nintendo Switch has been thus far, you first have to consider the possibility that it’s no longer realistic for Nintendo to keep mass producing two consoles at the same time.
Both the Switch and Classic are generating relatively similar levels of hype, and Nintendo likely began to see the NES Classic as a detriment to the production of the Switch. Naturally, they sided with their system of the future.
Beyond that, you have to ask yourself how profitable the NES Classic would have been the long run. Given that Nintendo had no plans to release software for the system – which is partially their own fault – there was no great way to make money off the console beyond its initial sale. Unless they marked up the Classic’s price to an insane degree, they might not have been making much money off the Classic, in general.
If you’re going to be angry at Nintendo for anything, be angry that they didn’t let people know that they didn’t plan on supporting the Classic Edition for a long time, didn’t get more units on shelves when they could have, and didn’t notify retails and consumers of its demise sooner.
However, you can’t be angry at them for making a decision that just makes sense.