Nintendo’s really bad at this. They’re great at making games, they’re arguably (I think so) great at creating unique game consoles, but they’re really, really bad at actually selling them. Like, the process of getting a console made, assembled, shipped to retail and sold through to a real consumer is hard for Nintendo.
They canceled the NES Classic Edition while it was still practically impossible to find one.
The Nintendo Switch launched on March 3, 2017. Here we are, three-and-a-half months later, and it’s exceptionally hard to find one at retail. On Amazon, Target, Wal-mart, Toys ‘R Us or wherever you get your games online or in person? The Switch is scarce. If you live in a relatively well-populated area, you can forget about finding one without getting lucky as a store opens with a freshly delivered three or four consoles.
Supposedly, Nintendo’s trying to ramp up production. There’s even been some discussion about how phone makers like Apple are making it harder for Nintendo to line up manufacturing on production lines because they share similar tech. It’s all playing against Nintendo’s favor, and the Switch remains hard to come by.
Now, normally, I’d look at the calendar and think, “They’ve got time.” Christmas is, what, five or six months away. That’s half a year to get production going well enough to satiate the demand they face now and the demand they’re likely to face with the Christmas rush and the release of Super Mario Odyssey. Right, like I said, I’d “normally” think that was enough time.
Super Mario Odyssey looks good.
But this is Nintendo, and they’ve given me no reason to believe that they’re at all capable of meeting production demand. Whether that’s because of competition with other companies to occupy manufacturing capabilities or their unwillingness to spend more to get more consoles out into retail remains veiled.
What’s happening that should worry Nintendo, though, is third-party selling. The guy or gal that snaps up that Nintendo Switch at Target early on a Tuesday morning and then lists it on eBay for $50 or $100 more? They’re the ones who are winning here. Customers are paying more than they should, and that’s money that could go to games or accessories actually made or licensed by Nintendo.
They say they’re ramping up production. I also say I’m laying off the junk food and coffee. Yet here we are, I can’t walk into a Target and buy a Switch and there’s a can of soda on my desk for lunch.