The NES Classic Edition is out today. This is the console selling for $59.99. It features 30 NES games and a controller (with an absurdly short cable). It plays games in 4:3, Pixel Perfect and CRT-filtered style.
The NES Classic is also nigh impossible to find. I was at my local Target this morning in time for its opening. There were well over 60 people in line for the console. The store had, according to the manager, 35 units.
I asked a few folks up and down the line if they intended to sell the NES Classic online. Most said yes, and one told me that he will make at least $200 per system. Target, fortunately, limited customers to a single purchase.
I called multiple Targets, Wal-marts and Toys “R” Us stores in the tri-state area. It was a fun 30 minutes. The NES Classic sold out instantly in all shops.
Our own Sean Aune checked shops near his home. They were sold out. Curiously, one Wal-mart in his area couldn’t locate their shipment of NES Classics. The employee and Sean surmised that, perhaps, one of the workers managed to take the systems for a spin on eBay.
The NES Classic Edition is the latest victim of scalping
Scalping’s been a thing in the retail industry for decades now. The Cabbage Patch Kids were scalped, Tickle Me Elmo was scalped, Furbies were scalped. This applies to consoles, too, with the Wii selling for upwards of $1,000 on second-hand marketplaces in 2006.
The NES Classic Edition is no different. As of 9am ET, there were 476 listings on eBay for the NES Classic Edition. A lot of them offered multiple systems. The most expensive in the pile are listed for $1,000, the cheapest in the Buy It Now pile is going for $159.99 plus $12.65 for shipping.
On Amazon, the cheapest option at the time of writing this post is $479.99.
These scalpers are making some serious scratch.
Is Nintendo creating artificial scarcity?
Artificial scarcity? That’s when a company has the means and money to produce large quantities of a product, but elects not to in order to generate fake scarcity at retail. Put plainly, is it possible Nintendo intentionally made less NES Classic Editions than they could to make it harder for them to find?
Sure, it is. Some argue that artificial scarcity increases consumer demand. That “Fear of Missing Out” kicks in, and consumers foam at the mouth at the opportunity to snap up a given good. I will admit, this has happened to me. Multiple times.
Nintendo has a hot item on their hands with the NES Classic Edition. Whether planned or not, the system will be difficult to find for at least this first week. Hopefully, production will pick up in time for the holidays. I have multiple friends and family members who want to find one under the tree this Christmas.
I reached out to our Nintendo contact this morning with two specific questions.
- Is there an expected shortage?
- Will Nintendo meet needs for shoppers?
If they respond, I will update this story with their full statement.
Update 12:00pm ET: Nintendo responded to my request for comment with a statement. Here it is, in full.
The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition system is a hot item, and we are working hard to keep up with consumer demand. There will be a steady flow of additional systems through the holiday shopping season and into the new year. Please contact your local retailers to check product availability. A selection of participating retailers can be found at www.Nintendo.com/nes-classic.