In the following editorial, quotes were received from various retail managers/employees; we have decided to not share the names of these employees to protect their anonymity and jobs.
Many employers working in retail lamented last holiday shopping season due to one simple question.
“What do you mean there’s no more NES Classics?”
The day the NES Classic was announced, there was much interest directed towards the system, especially in regards to Nintendo’s upcoming holiday season (which for the most part was looking to be rather lonely). Without a single advertisement on televisions, many had already considered it the ‘biggest holiday gift of the season.’
It was an otherwise ingenious idea from Nintendo; releasing a miniaturized incarnation of one of the world’s most beloved consoles, setting a price-point with affordability in mind, and integrating 30 of the console’s most renowned titles on the system itself. However there were a few drawbacks, other than the short controller cord, there was also the scarcity of the product itself.
“Yes i will share, Nintendo made the lives of retail workers hell. I have been cussed at and threatened over this machine. Customers were also extremely irritated about the way Nintendo has handled the release, some even said they gave up and downloaded an emulator. Things like open pre-orders could have predicted quantities months ago. Artificial scarcity is only making my job difficult.” – GameStop Employee
Many were anxious to be able to pre-order the system as soon as possible based alone on word-of-mouth. Unfortunately however, that day never came as the system launched with scarce availability and a minimal amount of reservations. Many were required to stand in line at various retailers and hope for the best.
“On the first day of the launch we had around 15 people waiting outside the store, people who had been waiting out in the snow for quite a few hours. We only received four units, and had to tell people who had been waiting for hours that they wouldn’t be able to purchase the system. Occasionally there was a lack-of-understanding with why our store was out-of-stock. Bribes, threats, and names have all been directed towards me as a result of this toy.” – Target Store Manager
This isn’t the first time that Nintendo, after using a ‘false scarcity’ marketing tactic, have received consequences. As Sega in the 90’s console wars, took advantage of Nintendo’s decision to limit retailers and helped their own relationships between stores by better balancing supply & demand.
“More were bought by scalpers than people that actually wanted them. Clearly, I don’t have statistics to back that up, but I know at my store that was attempted multiple times. We can’t catch all of them, but we most definitely try.” -GameStop Employee
The NES Classic sold around 200,000 units throughout this holiday season in America alone, so who’s to say that the console is anything that could be considered a failure in the eyes of the company who created it? Keeping retailers begging for products to put on shelves could also be considered something that is otherwise positive for the company. One retail employee suggested that maybe Nintendo isn’t to blame, but rather the animosity of consumers. As resellers sold the system for almost 100’s of dollars, people who specifically wanted a console have been paying much more than what they should’ve.
“Nintendo is a Japanese company. They do not care about our capitalistic economy. That’s their right. They don’t need to do any thing. Who needs to stop harassing retail employees? Americans. End of list. Every one in this country wants to point a finger at someone else, that’s why this country is in the position it is. Sure, it sucks, but it has nothing to do with Nintendo and they don’t care about money.” – Very Colorful GameStop Employee
While the system is also doing extremely well in Japan, it seems as if most of the frustration from scarcity is coming from western cultures. While Nintendo might’ve actually believed that they were easily going to be able to sell an initial stock of 200,000 consoles, deciding against doing pre-orders for the system. There’s no denying that there were many frustrated with not being able to receive an NES Classic, with a select few bringing it out on underpaid retail employees.
If you want an NES Classic, you wait until the supply equals the demand. Thankfully, in our current days we have tools that can track whether or not a product is in stock or not. Using sites such as ‘Now in Stock‘; you can set up notifications on your phone and know exactly when a SKU goes in-stock online via alerts on your phone or desktop. But if you are still desperate to play the classics, there’s always the virtual console on the 3DS, Wii, and Wii U.
It’s time for a Switch
Following Nintendo’s presentation for the Nintendo Switch, many were worried that only a select few would be able to get their hands on the portable/home-console hybrid. With Nintendo’s strategy to produce a bare-minimum of what the company assumes to sell, this worry was very founded. As fan interest for the Switch reached an increasingly feverish pitch following the shotgun blast of announcements, Nintendo had grossly underestimated for the demand of the console. The Switch might be hurt for potential sales, and what could’ve signified the greatest change for Nintendo, could be hurt by word of mouth.