What was apparently only intended as a holiday surprise for Nintendo fans is now off the (official) market for good. Late last week, Nintendo announced that they are discontinuing the wildly popular NES Classic, leaving everyone who wanted to get their hands on one scrambling for eBay.
The NES Classic was a smaller version of the company’s original 8-bit video game console. Coming with a mini NES controller, the console came preloaded with 30 classic NES games, including Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda. After being announced last July, Nintendo began to sell the consoles in early November, only to see them sell out almost instantly. Since then, Nintendo had produced limited supplies in spurts, but nowhere near enough to satisfy demand for the console.
Now, it looks like they never will. In a statement sent to some members of the media, Nintendo said,
“Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year. We encourage anyone interested in obtaining this system to check with retail outlets regarding availability. We understand that it has been difficult for many consumers to find a system, and for that we apologize. We have paid close attention to consumer feedback, and we greatly appreciate the incredible level of consumer interest and support for this product.”
That means no more new NES Classic consoles will be produced, but let’s dive into that statement anyway. The most surprising part about the whole thing is surprise — the apologies for the lack of supply suggest Nintendo really didn’t expect this much demand for the NES Classic, which is almost incomprehensible. In a world where nostalgia plays are virtually guaranteed hits, Nintendo really should have known that their original home console would have gotten this kind of attention.
But, now they have recognized the interest, and it seems pretty unlikely that they’re going to just ignore it. From here, Nintendo could go in one of two directions. We still haven’t heard anything about a Virtual Console store for the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s newest home console, which would allow gamers to buy and download classic Nintendo games — getting rid of the NES Classic could mean they’re clearing the way for that announcement.
That ignores part of the NES Classic’s charm, which is that it actually looked like the retro console. So, there’s another possibility — a version 2.0. When the NES Classic first came out, one of the drawbacks we noticed was that there was no way to download more games to the console. That makes us wonder if Nintendo is now planning to turn the Virtual Console into a real one, using the appearance of the NES Classic as a way to rerelease their old games from all of their old consoles. An internet-connected console could not only allow for new games to be downloaded, but could enable online multiplayer for later-era Nintendo games.
Basically, what I’m saying is that Nintendo should make a thing that lets us play Super Smash Bros Melee online. Hey, at least Nintendo can’t say they don’t know the money’s there.