NES Classic Edition, where do I begin?
For the sake of the conversation I’ll start at the beginning of my journey to acquire this tiny bit of retro goodness. In the gaming community it’s no secret that retro gaming has been growing in popularity over the last few years. So much so that there is a pretty strong market for the selling of retro gaming hardware. Finding the old hardware isn’t very difficult as there are retro gaming conventions like Retro Con and even store chains like Game Over Videogames that specialize in retro gaming hardware. The one downside to the growing popularity in retro gaming is the spike in price for retro gaming hardware, some of the games and consoles almost rival what current gen games and systems cost. To capitalize on this growing trend, Nintendo dropped a bomb this past July. They announced that they would be releasing the NES Classic, which is a tiny version of the original 8 bit NES preloaded with 30 of the most popular titles Nintendo had to offer, at the time.
Not to get into the entire list but it’s a no brainer that the system would include the Super Mario titles, Zelda titles, Punch Out, Super C among others. Aside the fact that the system is a tiny replica of the original system it did have one specific upgrade and that’s that it supports HDMI which is a plus.
The price point of $60 dollars was also quite attractive, there’s no way you can go out buy an original NES with those 30 titles and spend only $60 dollars so the value is a plus as well. The only changes that I felt would’ve made the system even better would’ve been to add some storage space and network connectivity to download titles from the Nintendo store. I know this would’ve made the system more expensive but I would’ve been willing to pay more for those additions.
Now, 3rd party consoles and systems with emulators are nothing new for retro gaming. Sega had a 3rd party company manufacture and release a Sega branded retro Genesis console, but in classic Sega fashion it was a bust because the wireless controls and sound chip were of poor quality. I was always a Sega guy growing up but they always seemed to be first to the party, which isn’t always a good thing.
So what’s the difference here? Branding and marketing.
Nintendo did a good job on delivering this in as much nostalgic fashion as possible. The packaging is right out of the 80’s and keeping the same design of the original NES were key components in creating the huge buzz for this release. I truly don’t believe that Nintendo anticipated the madness that would occur on release day for the NES Classic.
Either that or they are just being jerks.
I didn’t anticipate the demand either but I planned accordingly just in case. Myself along with some friends kept an eye on the news about the release date and started to plan. On that Thursday I was planning to snag one at midnight so I stopped by a local Walmart to inquire about the release to confirm if they would go on sale at midnight. Walmart told me they would go on sale at midnight at all the 24 hour locations. Once midnight got closer I headed over to a 24 hour Walmart and not only were there people in line I was informed there were only 12 consoles….12 consoles!!! After being unsuccessful there I went over to another Walmart and struck out there as well. At this point I was pretty annoyed, to the point I went on an extensive twitter rant. I couldn’t understand, and still don’t understand, how on 30 year old technology there is any kind of limited stock on release day. That next morning I woke up unbelievably annoyed but decided that my quest wasn’t over. A close friend of mine called and told me to check Target, so I did. I arrived at a local Target at 7:30am and there were 20 people already in line. I thought that if Walmart had only 12 consoles then I probably was probably going to strike out at Target but, I’m already here so I may as well weather the storm. To my surprise through what I’m guessing was some sort of video game god blessing, that particular Target received 27 units. I struck pay dirt, even though most of my friends did not, I was a happy man once again. The madness that ensued after was a sight to see.
The release and shortage made national news and the secondary market exploded. Prices on eBay ranged from a couple hundred dollars into the thousands. Though I flat out don’t believe in shortages on launch day, it can be a little understandable on a new gen system. Due to the hardware and technology involved, but again on 30 year old technology? I don’t get it, I think it’s just a tactic so video game companies can say they sold out on launch day.
The video game industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and that’s because people spend the money on the products. Video game companies should for once try to meet demand on launch day to see what happens.
They might be surprised.