Nintendo is announcing that one of the most popular new products of holiday 2016, the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition, has officially been discontinued in North America. The final shipments of the system, as well as its NES Classic Controller accessories, will be available at retailers throughout April, but Nintendo has no further plans to bring the NES Classic Edition back into production.
Since its debut, the NES Classic Edition remains a much wanted product for gamers to add to their collection. The miniature replica of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System console contains 30 different classic NES games, of which many modern Nintendo fans have never played. Nevertheless, Nintendo has always made clear that the system was meant to be available for just a limited time:
"Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year. We encourage anyone interested in obtaining this system to check with retail outlets regarding availability. We understand that it has been difficult for many consumers to find a system, and for that we apologize. We have paid close attention to consumer feedback, and we greatly appreciate the incredible level of consumer interest and support for this product."
Originally priced at $59.99, scalpers and grey market retailers have inflated the price of what's left of the NES Classic Edition by 3-4x. It's rare to see the console available online for less than $100, but more commonly at $150 or $200.
For Nintendo fans who were hoping that Nintendo's production of the NES Classic Edition would eventually grow to meet demand, this news is sure to be heartbreaking. Especially so, considering Nintendo has provided no logical reason for ending the system's production at the height of its popularity. In a follow-up statement, Nintendo noted that it provided additional shipments of the NES Classic Edition beyond what it had originally planned for the limited run. That's not likely to assuage the disappointment of those still left wanting the console, though.
Speculation regarding the NES Classic Edition's discontinuation ranges from its success potentially drawing fans away from Nintendo's newly released console, the Nintendo Switch, to the system simply not being profitable enough for Nintendo to maintain. Nintendo's profit margin will certainly be much higher selling these same classic NES games via the Nintendo Switch's digital Virtual Console shop, when it eventually launches, rather than through a retail system.
The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition is currently available in extremely limited quantity at certain retailers. Don't expect any restocks past April, however -- once it's gone, it's gone.