Why, oh Why, Is Nintendo Discontinuing the NES Classic Edition?
If you believe in conspiracy theories, Nintendo is at the forefront of an intriguing one: Why is Nintendo discontinuing the NES Classic Edition?
The NES Classic Edition is gaming console that includes 30 preloaded Nintendo games. These are classic games from the early days of Nintendo, including Super Mario Bros., Tecmo Bowl, and Donkey Kong. The classic console has been in high demand since its release in 2016.
It was extremely tough to find any NES Classic Edition models for sale through retailers around last holiday season. Availability didn’t improve much in the months after the holidays.
After selling 1.5 million of these consoles, Nintendo announced it would stop selling them in North America as of early May. Understandably, those who were still waiting to find an NES Classic Edition at a retailer — and not wanting to pay huge markup prices on the secondary market — were extremely disappointed and questioning the decision. And nothing sparks conspiracy theories like decisions that don’t seem to make sense at first glance.
So we’ve scoured the Internet and collected the five most interesting theories about why Nintendo is discontinuing the NES Classic Edition. Pick your favorite conspiracy theory and then spread it on social media as far and wide as you can!
1. Placing the Focus on Switch
Nintendo released its latest gaming console, the Nintendo Switch, in March. It has been a popular option thus far. In its first two months of sales, Nintendo announced it had sold more than 900,000 Switch consoles in North America.
So the theory says Nintendo planned all along to stop offering NES Classic at the same time it introduced Switch, hoping to use NES Classic only to generate buzz for the company by the time of Switch’s debut, because the Switch was appearing at an odd time of the year. And the theory says Nintendo didn’t want competing systems on the market together.
2. Releasing a Virtual Console on Switch
One of the more popular conspiracy theory says Nintendo plans to use the popularity of the NES Classic Edition to increase sales of Switch. Nintendo may release a Virtual Console for Switch — perhaps around the holidays — that would allow you to play old Nintendo games on Switch. Those who couldn’t find an NES Classic Edition to buy may be willing to buy a Switch to obtain access to the old games, allowing Nintendo to introduce those interested in classic games to the new games on the Switch, and vice versa.
Nintendo hasn’t had much luck in creating Virtual Consoles in the past though, meaning the company would need to take a big step forward to make this theory become reality.
3. Misjudging NES Classic’s Popularity
This isn’t much of a conspiracy theory, but it says Nintendo simply misjudged how popular the NES Classic Edition would be. Rather than trying to ramp production and potentially overcompensate and compete with Switch, Nintendo just decided to let the console fade away.
This theory makes some sense, as NES Classic Edition’s launch was plagued with scarcity issues from the beginning. Some product shortages can help drive demand, but, at some point, if the product shortages are too great, it costs the company profits.
4. Keeping Them Wanting More
Looking from the outside, it appears Nintendo has little to no idea that people love the company’s old graphics and old games. Instead, the conspiracy theory says Nintendo knows exactly how popular these games are, and it will use the product scarcity to generate demand and to set up similar future products that will have a higher price point.
People who were unable to purchase an NES Classic Edition this time may be willing to spend even more if the company releases another retro console down the road. Like the old saying in show business, always keep them wanting more!
5. Hacking Ruined It for the Rest of Us
Hackers jumped on the NES Classic Edition soon after its introduction, releasing code to allow purchasers to download and add games to it illegally. The theory says such hacking caused Nintendo to curtail production in an attempt to figure out how to regain control of the product.
Perhaps Nintendo had spent several weeks attempting to block the hacking, eventually choosing to give up and just stop selling the unit. If another classic console is released in the future, Nintendo likely will take greater steps to reduce the possibility of hacking.
Bottom Line: It’s Now Officially a Sellers Market
Regardless of exactly why Nintendo decided now was a good time to stop selling the classic console in North America, it did. And we as customers suffer the consequences.
If you thought it was tough to obtain an NES Classic Edition before, just wait. Customers were still holding out hope a few months ago that their local retailer or Amazon might receive a shipment of the consoles. They waited to buy, hoping to make a purchase at retail price. Now though? The secondary market just received a whole new set of potential buyers and the high prices increased even more.
It was a sellers market for NES Classic Edition consoles before this announcement. Now it’s a sellers market times 10. And no conspiracy theory can fix that problem.