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.
Fire Emblem Awakening (2013)
I skipped school for this game.
The first new Fire Emblem game since I got into the series way back in 2008, and you know that I wasn’t going to go to school and waiting to play the game afterwards.
But then, despite my preorder, despite skipping school the day it came out on Monday, February 4th… Gamestop didn’t have it! Nintendo shipped fewer copies to stores than there were preorders, and there weren’t actually copies to buy! Augh! The game was very difficult to find in stores for a few months, probably out of lack of confidence in the product. Then accidentally it became a major hit and revived the whole franchise, but still.
It took until that Friday, I think, to finally get the game. I played it and loved it after that, but that wait was excruciating.
Circle Pad Pro (2013)
Yep, it was just a second stick to be used in Monster Hunter and a couple shooters, and it too was in very short supply for a long time. It’s bargain bin stuff now, but at the time it was strangely hard to find, something that annoyed my left-handed brother who could never play any shooty games.
Gamecube Adapter (2014)
Do you know how quickly this stupid adapter went out of stock? Pretty much immediately! I accidentally bought one from Play Asia that was actually just a Wii Remote Nunchuck add-on, and never managed to get this one because it was never in stock until I stopped caring.
This one was a massive victim of artificial shortages probably more because Nintendo didn’t think it would sell as many copies as it did, so they understocked it just a bit to make sure people snatched up what they did produce. It turned out that small artificial shortage turned into a massive one because of how much people wanted it.
Luckily, this one is useable on the Switch too and it’s compatible with any game that doesn’t use the ZL button, so its shortages at least paved the way for a better product.
I am so glad I am not a toy collector, but even I own like 15 of these things. Holy crap were its shortages insane. Scalpers were charging hundreds of dollars for tiny pieces of plastic with almost no function at all. And people bought them!
Devil’s Third (2015)
It wasn’t even a good game, but somehow thanks to Nintendo making so few copies, it too became a victim of stock shortages and collector scalping. Why?! How could Devil’s Third even have artificial shortages?!
NES Classic and SNES Classic (2016 and 2017)
Everyone remembers these; the scalpers got to them immediately and started selling them for $200 on Ebay, and Nintendo refused to make extra models right up until Christmas season came around.
This was the point when the Nintendo shortage/scalping issue became a really big deal that even normal people were talking about. I have no doubt that these two systems could have become much better sellers that people actively buy even today (if only because they are so easy to mod), but the stock is always so limited that nobody even tries.
Of course, the main reason they were light on these was really to pave the way for their next console…
Nintendo Switch (2017)
Yeah, it happened here too. Because as much as they claim it isn’t intentional, they know this game, and sadly, we do too.
Nintendo Labo VR (2019)
I thought Nintendo Labo was a flop that always got discounted… How did this happen?!
Ring Fit Adventure (2019)
If you liked this article, make sure to take a look at my favorite games of the 2010s, which consists mostly of Nintendo releases for some reason.