Here is a brief history of Nintendo’s undying love for artificial shortages.
Nintendo got cocky from the Wii. It sold out really badly in its first Christmas season; nobody could get one, and everyone wanted one. It created a fire that fueled the console’s amazing success in the years to follow. Possibly thanks to its incredible scarcity, the Wii quickly took off to become the second-best-selling console of all-time.
So when the Wii U stalled out of the gate and did NOT sell out in Holiday 2012, Nintendo apparently took the lessons of the Wii’s success, assumed that scarcity was the only way it succeeded, and decided to redo the same exact same strategy with every stupid piece of hardware they ever released!
Xenoblade Chronicles (2012)
Nintendo decided to hang the game out to dry with not a single clue that it could ever succeed. This made no sense because Xenoblade was already a critically acclaimed smash in Japan and Europe, but Nintendo of America just had no confidence here. It suffered stock shortages in the UK because it was so popular… And yet they still did it!
It was a Gamestop exclusive, so its copies were already going to be sparse. A major example of artificial shortages if there ever was one. But when it inevitably earned its status as a modern classic, Gamestop decided to go even further into craven business practices by causing an artificial price boost to its own copies.
So I’m sitting there, minding my own business, starting Fire Emblem: Three Houses about three months later than everyone else because I had to promise someone else I wouldn’t start until finishing a long-procrastinated-on novel manuscript. Game’s pretty good so far, way too few battles for my liking, but I’m still really enjoying the characters and the potential of all the systems. The story’s kinda dumb and I’m mad that I’m a blank slate self-insert character, but hey, it’s still Fire Emblem.
Y’all remember that time Nintendo really fucked up bad? I’m talking when the Nintendo 3DS first came out in the spring of 2011. There were no launch games worth talking about, no game to sell the system to gamers, to casual audiences, or even to kids. The 3D gimmick was really neat, but no game truly showed it off in any notable way, much less anything that made it essential for gameplay. As the follow-up to the best-selling handheld gaming system of all-time, Nintendo really ruined things.
This is something I locked away in the recesses of my mind until recently, but as I was stumbling around old computer files looking for something to blog about, I remembered that I accidentally predicted the future of video game consoles. I even posted about it in my high school-era blog, which you can read here.
It was April 2011, and I was thinking about the next Nintendo console, which I figured would be announced at the upcoming E3 press conference for a release in 2012. I figured what the essentials would be for a new system, what Nintendo absolutely needed to survive in the field after the Wii’s lagging end-tail sales, then what I thought might be able to be enhanced from the Wii era. That brought me to the idea of new controller designs, and thinking about how Nintendo loves to try new innovations, I ruminated on just what they might to to differentiate themselves.
Turns out, for all my teenage weirdness I was a bit of a prophet about the future direction of console video gaming.