Nintendo Classic Edition - Commercial Success, Public Failure (and The Continued Deterioration of Humanity)

In a turn of events that is shocking to nobody, Nintendo has once again botched the release of one of their consoles. However, unlike the Wii U, which was released seemingly overnight to an audience unaware of what it actually was, the Nintendo  Classic Edition was a highly anticipated piece of hardware that fans had been asking about pre-ordering since the day it was announced.

With such high demand, retailers actually ended up going in the opposite direction, denying pre-order sales for fear they wouldn't be able to accommodate the many purchases that would have been made in advance - That fear turned out to be justified.

Stores across the US and Japan were selling out of the console within ten minutes (or less) of opening their doors on the day of release - Friday, November 11, 2016. The problem was one Nintendo should have seen coming a mile away.

Retailers such as Target, Toys R' Us, Best Buy, Walmart and even GameStop had less than twenty consoles to distribute per store. If this weren't bad enough, they didn't even have enough extra controllers to sell alongside the systems. Stores were lucky if they had received two controllers - With several reports of many getting one or none.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm sure Nintendo is pleased with their sales numbers as of this morning. I'm sure that in some board room somewhere, somebody is getting a massive pat on the back for their ingenious idea to release a Classic Edition. I'm sure as they count the cash in hand that their smiles are growing wider and wider with each stack. Yes, Nintendo can claim their NES Classic Edition a commercial success.


A commercial success doesn't mean a public one. If you were to ask me, I'd claim the NES Classic Edition to be a massive public failure.


Because Nintendo couldn't meet with supply and demand, and there was no reason for this beyond Nintendo's ever growing incompetence to determine the amount of product needed for a public launch. Here's a perfect example;

I arrived at my local Target at 6:45 AM for an 8:00 AM opening. There were just two people in line already. By 7:30 AM, there were forty people. This line continued to grow. At 7:55 AM, the manager of the store came out, and asked, "Is anyone in this line NOT here for a Nintendo?" Only one hand went up, and we'll go into that person later in this article. The manager then announced, "We have only fifteen Nintendo consoles."

Disappointment obviously began to be audible at this point. He then said, "When we open, it's going to be first come, first serve. You may not hold one to shop for further items. You need to pay for it at the counter, and if your card is declined, you will forfeit your purchase. This line will move in an orderly fashion in the order of individuals as you are now, and it is limited to one per customer."

He then asked if anyone had any questions. I did. I asked, "How many extra controllers do you have?" One was the response. Fifteen consoles...and one extra controller. Well, I was third in line, so I was not getting an extra controller.

During our time in line, I met several people. Many of them had attempted to go to Walmart at midnight to get the console, but were told that it would go on sale at 7:00 AM. Shortly after the midnight hour, someone at Walmart tired of being asked about the console, and decided to sell them. In other words, by 7:00 AM, the whopping six that they had received were long gone.

The local GameStop received ten consoles, and two controllers. Best Buy got twenty consoles with no controllers, and Toys R' Us got nothing.

What does all of this mean? It means that for every one person that got the Nintendo the second the doors opened (because remember, they sold out everywhere), about five or more people were turned away. So if GameStop got ten consoles, theoretically, they turned fifty people away before an hour had even passed from the time the store opened.

Now let's take a step back to my personal experience at Target. I want to mention how scalpers just really tick me off. As I said, I was third in line. Ahead of me was a guy with his girlfriend. Behind me was a family of four. The guy's girlfriend was letting everyone know that she was going to buy a Nintendo too because she could, "Get $300 for it on ebay." She didn't want one. She just wanted to sell it. The family of four behind me - Yeah, they each wanted one for the same reason. Right there that's five consoles going in the hands of scalpers.

Now let's take a step even further back, and revisit that one lady that was in line for something other than a Nintendo. She wanted a Hatchimal, which the manager announced that they had two of. She was the only person in line that wanted this item, and she was number 12 or so back. The people in front of and behind me all asked, "What's a Hatchimal?"

While these people had no clue what it was, their greed instantly kicked in as they fired up their cell phones, and saw the asking price on ebay. The girlfriend, and one of the guys in the family bought the two Hatchimals that this one woman had gotten in line for. That's terrible. It's so awful and wrong that I'm sputtering over words because I just can't come up with something to describe how despicably greedy and...just wrong...that it was for these people to buy this item.

Has society gotten so greedy that we've chosen to forgo the simplest bit of courtesy for our fellow human beings? I guess I just don't understand how making a couple bucks off of something is more important than the joy an item will bring to someone else. For all we know, that person was in line for her daughter who was home in bed with some ailing disease, and she was just trying to bring a momentary smile to her face. Sure, that's an extreme example, and probably not the case, but do you see my point? People don't take two seconds to consider the person standing twenty feet behind them.

I'm truly sorry that this woman didn't get what she was there for. In hind sight, I wish I would have bought the last Hatchimal so I could turn around in line and hand it to the woman, and say, "I hope you enjoy it!" With my luck...She would have probably turned out to be a scalper too.

All of this comes back on the companies producing these items. Their incompetence to properly provide product to a public that clearly wants to hand them their money is unfathomable. For as long as I have been a collector, I've never understood why companies want to hand third party groups (ahem, scalpers) money that they could be putting in their own pockets. The solution is simple - Meet supply vs. demand.

The perfect example of all of this is the NES Classic. You have two million people (hypothetically) that want to give you their money to buy an NES Classic, yet you only produce one million consoles (hypothetically). You just passed on $60,000,000.00 because you couldn't be bothered to provide your product to those people. Either Nintendo is truly being run by incompetent people, or they simply don't care about their potential customers. Whichever option it is, neither of them are good business practices.

Even as someone who got an NES Classic Edition this morning, I can't help but feel angry about how this was handled. It angers me that as of this post there are over 3,000 consoles on ebay - clearly purchased by scalpers. It infuriates me that I had to stand in line with said people on a cold sidewalk as they talked openly about their intentions as if to scoff at those who would be "forced" to buy from them or one of their unknown cronies if they wanted one. To an extent, this also makes me angry at the people who support this type of behavior by buying from scalpers.

Additionally, it saddens me that for as many people who got one, there were numerous others told, "Sorry. Better luck next time." I'll even admit that part of the reason I'm bent out of shape is because I couldn't follow through with my initial plan, and purchase two more as Christmas gifts for my siblings because due to (lack of) supply everyone was limited one, and who knows when anymore will be available.

Thanks, Nintendo. Thanks for screwing up yet another highly anticipated release.

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  1. sadly this is the way it is with everything these days. I go to goodwill like everyday and I do not sell anything ( if anything I give stuff away) and all day everyday its filled with scalpers scanning everything in the store with an app on there phone that shows them what what the item is worth and the profit they can expect to make from it. The app gives them a red screen for dont buy and a green screen for buy. They dont know anything about any of the stuff they buy all they know is they dont want somebody else to get it at a good price .Check out this post , this guy really makes me sick.
    and thats ALL thats ever in my goodwill , walking around scanning things like zombie.

    1. This guy's words ooze with scum and slime. I would imagine he is not someone I would like to meet personally.

  2. This is nothing new. The only difference is people can put it up on eBay, rather than selling out of their trunk in an alleyway. As long as people keep freaking out about missing out on buying something the day it comes out (something that will likely be overflowing off the shelves in couple weeks) there are going to be scalpers out there to take advantage of them.

    1. That is true - However, keep in mind that Nintendo specifically seems to have major distribution issues when it comes to their products. Consoles, Amibos, and sometimes even specific games seem to always be in short supply. It can be argued that Nintendo is feeding into the scalper realm because of this.

      Scalpers know that new Nintendo products are going to be limited, so they pounce. Nintendo should be countering this by offering supply vs. demand.

    2. I honestly don't think Nintendo has any distribution problems at all. I think most of this is part of their approach to marketing, to release something in such short supply that people will be clamoring for it when they start sending out actual shipments. Feeding the scalpers doesn't benefit them, but creating a panic about short supply certainly does. It means folks will be likely to buy something before they realize it's a piece of crap and change their minds.

    3. I've actually been thinking about this more and more over the past weekend. I think you're absolutely right. How many people are chomping at the bit to buy this simply for the fact that they can't have it? It's Cartman Land all over again.

      "So much to do at Cartman Land, but you can't come!"

    4. Oh man, I was so excited about this thing when it was announced, but I've cooled on it over the past month or so. I have the entire NES library on my computer, and checking the dates on the files, the last time I accessed them was back in 2014. I'm also not too thrilled about the game selection on the NES Mini, so I'm thinking it would have ended up being a waste for me at least.

    5. My biggest complaint with it is that there is not an option for cartridges. Well, that and the excessively short controller wire.

      This would have been the ultimate console had the option for cartridge use been included. Granted, it would have also been more expensive.

    6. They could have added a slot that used DS style cards, enabling them to use the same packaging in stores now. It would have also allowed them to put whole series on one card. How awesome would it have been to go out and buy the entire NES Mega Man series on one card? I haven't seen a disassembly video of the Mini NES yet, but I can't imagine that they couldn't have fit the hardware to read DS cards in there somewhere.

    7. That would be totally awesome! Too bad Nintendo never thinks far in advance about these types of things.

      I've seen a disassembling. It's essentially a proprietary board that has chips on it. Lots of "dead space" inside the box though. It's essentially just a plug and play emulator.

  3. Great post.It's very unfortunate that this is just the way of our world.It's apples and oranges when compared to action figures,but do you know how long I've been waiting for re-release of a Marvel Universe Wonder Man so I don't have to shell out the 25 some odd bucks people want for It on eBay?The same with every Deadpool ,Snake Eyes and Super Man figure.

    1. I hate how this happens to collectors of all types. Unfortunately people feed the scalpers, which is why the rest of us have to deal with it.

  4. Man, I hope this doesn't happen with the Nintendo Switch, I might pull the trigger on one. I haven't purchased a console since the Gamecube generation. I don't remember having any trouble finding a Gamecube, maybe because it wasn't that popular, but still. Also, I found a nice Gamecube controller extension which has been nice.

    1. I would definitely recommend preordering one if you are remotely interested in it. If Nintendo sticks to their commonplace tactic, this will indeed be limited, and a real pain to find around release date.

      Keep in mind, when the Wii was released, they were relatively scarce for about a year.