Dec 26 2016
What the NES Classic means for Nintendo and Retro Gamers
The big news story this holiday season was the NES Classic, one of the "hot gift items" for 2016. It has been nearly impossible to find on shelves, and scalpers are making a bunch of money reselling these systems on eBay. I have personally yet to find one, but plan on picking one up once the stock issues are eliminated.
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However, the interesting story behind the huge success of the NES Classic is that we could see a change in the way Nintendo handles their classic IPs. For close to a decade now the only way to play these classics legally was to either own the original release or purchase it via a Nintendo console or handheld on their Virtual Console, and usually both options were a significant expense. Original carts can be anywhere from 5 to 100 US dollars, and Virtual Console games range from 5 to 10 dollars. Now, there is an option to get a bundle of 30 games, all solid titles, for an average cost of 2 dollars each. The value of this system is astounding, and the consumers have spoken: they want this format.
I believe in 2017 and 2018, we will see two more releases. I would first expect to see a second NES Classic, perhaps modeled off the US NES 2 Top Loader. The second unit will likely feature 30 more titles, perhaps this time with a few more third party titles than the original. Nintendo still has a large collection of first party NES games that could be sold on a second unit, including a few titles that never saw a US release. Super Mario Bros 2 Lost Levels and Earthbound Zero are a couple obvious choices. Capcom could supply us with another Mega Man title, and the RPG front could be augmented with Square-Enixs Dragon Warrior, and perhaps the sequel as well.
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The second release I would expect Nintendo to release would be an SNES Classic. Many gamers have fond memories of the 16 bit Nintendo console, and considering Sega has already released a mini Genesis with built in games, I would expect Nintendo to bring a well made SNES with 30 built in games, perhaps at an increased price of 69.99. First party games would definitely include the two Mario World games, Donkey Kong Country, F-Zero, Super Metroid, Zelda LttP, and Starfox. Third Party options include Mega Man X, Final Fantasy 2 and 3, Street Fighter (or perhaps Mortal Kombat), Castlevania 4, and Contra 4. With the way the NES Classic is selling, Nintendo could easily develop this type of console for the 2017 holiday season and replicate the amazing success they had this past season.
With the 3DS seeing a major resurgence in sales this holiday season and the amazing sales of the NES Classic, Nintendo has a chance to get their name back in households using cheaper devices, and they should use this to their advantage to convince consumers to purchase their new Switch. While their flagship consoles from the modern era have been disappointing since the Wii U, they could easily work their way back into the forefront of gaming simply by selling cheaper products like these.