The NES Classic went on sale today, and Nintendo’s latest iteration of its older console is shaping up to be another holiday hit. The diminutive retro console appears to have sold out in minutes this morning, and availability at almost every online retailer is incredibly scarce.
But like any product high in demand and low in supply, where there’s a will, there’s tons of people looking to make a quick buck by flipping things on secondary marketplaces. So it’s by no means surprising to see things like third-party Amazon sellers flogging the $59.99 NES Classic for $398 (at the time of publication), or for eBay prices for the throwback console to end up in the $200–$300 range — far eclipsing the price of an actual working vintage NES.
And while the latest batch of Nintendo scarcity may feel familiar, the NES Classic was supposed to be different. A cheaper console, running legacy hardware that shouldn’t have had the same supply constraints. Nintendo was supposed to have learned from its lessons of underestimating supply from things like the Pokémon Red / Blue New 3DS bundle, or even the original Nintendo Wii, which was famously nigh-impossible to find upon its release. Instead, fans are once again left scouring stores, hoping to find an NES Classic miraculously in stock, or otherwise left to pay outrageous markups on the gray market. All for an emulator inside a plastic shell.
Consumer reaction to the short NES Classic supply isn’t great, either. The NES Classic is currently sitting at a 2-star ranking on Amazon, with a overwhelming majority of the reviews bemoaning the fact that the console (which has not actually gone on sale at Amazon yet) already has resellers looking for dramatically more than the sticker price. Aggravating the frustration is the fact that Nintendo hasn’t run any sort of preorder campaign, making it impossible to reserve one in advance and leaving buyers to the mercy of random chance on the internet or stores.
At this point, who knows when, or even if, you’ll be able to reliably buy a NES Classic at all this holiday season. But at least if you somehow do manage to track one down, you’ll almost definitely be making someone’s holiday bright.
Update: Nintendo has commented on Twitter that “There will be a steady flow of additional systems through the holiday shopping season and into the new year.”
There will be a steady flow of additional systems through the holiday shopping season and into the new year. 2/3— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) November 11, 2016