Nintendo Promises SNES Classic Release Will Go Smoother Than NES Classic


Nintendo recently grabbed headlines by announcing the rumoured Super Nintendo Classic, a miniature version of the beloved video game console that launched in 1991, with 21 built-in games for about $80 USD, due in stores on September 29. The retro device will drop about a year after Nintendo released the NES Classic, a similarly small version of the iconic 1980s console, which Nintendo released for the 2016 holiday season.

When Nintendo unveiled the NES Classic last year, it immediately became the must-have device for gamers who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s. The miniature retro console was an immediate sellout during last year’s holiday season, but in the new year, after selling more than two million units, Nintendo bizarrely announced it was discontinuing production while hundreds of thousands of fans still waited for backorders. Legions of gamers would never get their hands on the retro console (or would have to try their luck on the secondary market, where the $60 devices routinely sell for upwards of $500).

Many cynical analysts and fans assumed that Nintendo was intentionally manufacturing scarcity (something the company was accused of when its Wii console was the hot, hard-to-get gadget in the mid-2000s). Representatives for the gaming giant claimed that it was a business decision to focus its limited production resources on the higher-priority, current-generation console, the Switch. (“From our perspective, it’s important to recognize where our future is and the key areas that we need to drive,” Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé told Time. “We’ve got a lot going on right now and we don’t have unlimited resources.”) Regardless of the reason, many gamers resigned themselves to never getting to play the NES Classic.

So, when Nintendo confirmed plans for the SNES Classic launching later in 2017, many fans felt like they knew what came next: instant sellouts for pre-orders (the SNES Classic went up for pre-order in the middle of the night – and immediately sold out), sky-high demand, and eventual disappointment. But Nintendo soon clarified that it will keep producing the SNES Classic into 2018. Even crazier came the next shoe to drop: Nintendo is also bringing back the original NES Classic next year, so folks who couldn’t get one before would still be able to play Super Mario Brothers on their 65-inch HDTVs.

Even with the news of the SNES Classic and the returning NES version, many remain skeptical that Nintendo will actually meet demand as promised. And with the popularity of emulators (which allow gamers to play classic games on modern devices) and off-brand “600-games-in-one” systems readily available, many consumers likely won’t bother trying to buy a Nintendo-issued retro console, and instead grab a third-party knockoff or download some classic games via emulator for their nostalgia fix.

Whether or not Nintendo keeps its promise of a tiny retro console for every gamer who wants one remains to be seen, but it does appear that the legendary games company is listening to fans and learning from its mistakes. Nintendo left a lot of money on the table when it discontinued the NES Classic. Now it looks like 2018 will be the year the company goes back to collect it.

Justin Anderson


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