Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bucking the Trend

Being that it is the end of the year, "year in review" posts are all the rage.  And I get it - with the new year just around the corner, people like to look back over the current year and list things.  Good, bad, indifferent, or all of the above, people like lists.  But I'm not going to do one.

No, instead I'm going to post - well, "rant", really - about those at Nintendo.

One of the most anticipated items to acquire for Christmas this year was the NES Classic - a mini replica of the old, original, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) with 30 built-in games (no cartridge slot) and an updated video interface (HDMI vs. the original "RCA-plugs").  So what does Nintendo do?  For whatever reason, they decided to produce a limit number of the units for their first run of production.

OK, I get that.  They weren't really sure just how popular the item would be (though they should have known by the overwhelming positive comments on any blog that announced its coming), so making enough to cover their costs of design and production and a little profit is actually smart.  If they all sell, you guarantee you won't take a loss, and if only some sell, then you minimize your losses.

BUT - after that initial production run had sold-out in a matter of minutes, the second and subsequent productions runs should have been much, much, MUCH larger - like at least 1 million units.*  But did they?  Oh, no - not even close.

Instead, they dole out the units in extremely small batches**, making it nearly impossible for people to actually buy them at the MSRP of just under $60.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for capitalistic idea of "supply and demand", but when the supply is intentionally suppressed, it only hurts the consumers.  I mean, Nintendo is still selling their units at wholesale prices to the (large-scale) retailers, and the (large-scale) retailers are still selling the units at the MSRP(±), so they are not making any more money, per unit, on sales.  So who benefits?

Not the actual consumers, but the scalpers.  Those who buy the units simply to re-sell them at vastly inflated prices.  I've seen as much as 6-times (or more than) the MSRP, with the typical cost of around $250.

I'm all for making a profit, so I don't blame the scalpers for getting what they can.  No, I blame Nintendo - the fault lies squarely on their shoulders.

I actually had a very brief opportunity to pick up a unit before Christmas, as some Amazon Bookstores*** had received a shipment of 1,000 units, and one of their stores which did receive them is located in my city.  But, unfortunately, I learned about it one day late.  By the time I had gotten there, they had sold their last unit, late the day before (which I could have gone, but - oh well).

And now, with what I believe was the 3rd (maybe even 4th or 5th) production batch being sold out, and Christmas being over, do you think Nintendo will increase their production runs?  All indications are "no".

Gah!  Idiots!

Come on, Nintendo - do the right thing and produce a very large batch of units and ensure each actual (large-scale) retail outlet chain has enough for "much, much, more than 6" units per store.  Quit being jerks, you jerks.  They don't even have a way to buy them directly from their own online store - I didn't think anyone was stupid enough to do that in this day and age†.

I do believe that, eventually, one will be able to find them for the MSRP(±), but it may be months yet.  However, with Christmas over, the big rush to acquire them should be dying down.  Which means the demand will subside, which should bring even the scalpers' pricing down to a "more reasonable" level.

If you are looking for one (like I am), there are websites that are tracking "in-stock" locations, so you don't need to keep checking local stores yourself.  CNET is regularly updating their "where to buy" page (last update was 2 days ago [that would be Dec. 29, 2016]) and they have a link to two†† other websites actively tracking stores, as well.  The CNET page is how I found out about the Amazon Bookstores.

Good luck to all those looking.


* OK, OK - maybe not 1 million, but several (hundreds of) thousands, at least.

** Some large retail chain stores, such as Target, Walmart, and Best Buy, had stores that received only 6 units at a time.  6.  And the re-stocking takes weeks if not months.  What were/are they thinking???

*** Did you know that there are some actual "brick and mortar" stores for Amazon?  I didn't until just after Thanksgiving, this year.

† Actually, I did know there are some manufacturers who don't sell items on their own online web-site and I believe it is incredibly stupid and short-sighted of them.  Many manufacturers, like Logitech, *do* sell their own merchandise on their own web-sites, and they are usually at inflated prices from the MSRP.  Not overly high, but still higher than the MSRP.  I think this is brilliant.  If one is really desirous of obtaining an item, then they can go to the manufacturer's web-site and pay a 'premium' for the unit.  The unwilling-to-wait customer gets the unit, the manufacturer gets a higher than normal retail price, and the scalpers are kept in-check, assuming the consumers know about the manufacturer's web-site pricing.

†† Brick-Seek is actively tracking Amazon, Target, and Walmart online sales websites.  You can also enter your ZIP-code to find a list of Target and Walmart stores in your area and the "in-stock" status. is also tracking stores, but I can only find a 'local Target' stores search via ZIP-code.  I also find their particular page much harder to use.  But maybe it would be easier to use if one registers, which I am disinclined to do.

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