The mini NES Classic edition could well be considered the hot gift this holiday season, even if the vast majority of humanity has never seen one in person. Nintendo’s nostalgic console sold out in moments after it launched, with many physical stores receiving extremely limited stock, and online retailers selling out in the sort of minuscule time increments made possible by robots and resellers. After launch stock has been slow, to say the least: Walmart began releasing new consoles at 5Pm EST every day for a week, only to see them fly off mere moments later. And so we wonder as we approach Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year: will anyone actually be able to buy this thing?
Black Friday is all about deals, of course, and I don’t expect this console to receive any cuts right now, unless you count the standard retail price as a major cut from the $200+ you’ll see from scalpers. But Black Friday is also just a day when you have a giant number of people in stores, buying gifts. It behooves you to have your products around for that.
I don’t see any online retailers with stock right now, and while there are reports of units trickling into physical stores, they seem to still be selling out pretty quick. If the NES Classic is still impossible to find come Friday, it calls the concept of managed scarcity into question. Theoretically, Nintendo could have built hype for its new product by releasing limited supply at launch, a tactic that either worked very well or was totally unnecessary, depending on how you look at it. If that were the case, however, it would be ridiculous to not push an adequate amount of stock out in time for Black Friday. The NES Classic edition is a great little product in many ways, but it really shines as a gift and, more importantly, a $60 impulse buy. So not having it in stores on the busiest shopping day of the season would seem counter-productive to say the least.
Limited stock can mean increased sales for a little while, but you’ve got to capitalize on it eventually. Whether or not this whole thing is intentional or not, I get the feeling that there are missed sales here. Impulse buys by definition need to be acted upon before the customer goes on thinking about something else. We’ve still got the whole holiday shopping season ahead of us, and I hope there will be adequate stock eventually. It might not seem like it, but this thing could be hugely important to Nintendo’s broader plans, even regarding the Switch. Pokemon GO’s ability to spur 3DS sales proves it to some degree. People have positive feelings about Nintendo and its products, and things like the NES Classic edition bring it to the forefront of people’s minds. Nintendo is having a moment right now. It needs to keep that moment going until the Switch comes out.