When the Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition (Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe) was announced it generated plenty of excitement online, and then rapidly sold out in the pre-order phase. It's been possible to get a unit at its proper price - ignoring eBay scalpers - with a bit of luck and a lot of persistence, but Nintendo has never truly got stock levels to the stage that they've been readily accessible in stores.
Speaking to investors recently, company President Tatsumi Kimishima stated that Nintendo was looking to improve the situation.
We apologize to our consumers and retail partners for the inconvenience caused by product shortages. Some parts require time to procure, but we are working to increase production. We also see the nostalgic interest in these products as an opportunity to draw consumers' attention to our latest game system, Nintendo Switch.
Now, however, there are some worrying reports coming out of the Scandinavian region that future supplies will be limited and final. Norwegian retailer Spillsjappa posted on Facebook to advise that Bergsala - Nintendo's distributor in the region - had stated that some stock would come but that they'd be final batches. A translation of the post (which we've tidied up slightly) and a subsequent comment in response to a follower are below.
Now it's official.
The NES Classic has expired from the range from Nintendo importer Bergsala AB.
This is tragic for us and our customers as they do not want to fully deliver the order we added in July 2016.
It comes to deliveries in March and April, and then there is the end.
We will contact everyone who stands in line with us and those who put them in the queue last will get the sad news on the email first.
We will still follow the queue, of course those who stand first at any given time will get delivered first.
...Nevertheless, we have it in writing from Bergsala AB.
See Elkjop [another major retailer] and several already have put the product as out of date.
This thread on NeoGAF has various retail posters from other countries (such as the US) stating they've been told similar things by Nintendo reps - limited stock coming in the next couple of months before the product ends. These additional posts are unverified at this stage, however. We have taken the chance to browse around a few UK stores - GAME doesn't list the product at all, the Amazon UK page only has merchant sales at over £100, and it remains out of stock on the official Nintendo UK store.
We have asked Nintendo UK for comment and will update this post should we receive a response.
It's clear that Nintendo has been disappointingly slow in restocking this system, though it's important to maintain the context that just recently the company stated production was ongoing. Nevertheless the ongoing scarcity of units and this post by Spillsjappa (along with various other remarks online) add some smoke to the fire that suggests the system will indeed be a very limited run.
It's possible that the system is still very much in production, of course, but that supply will take some time - the hope would be that there's been a communication error along the line from Bergsala. If Nintendo does end shipments after March and April, and potentially only with modest numbers in those distributions, there'd be plenty of surprise and disappointment. It's been a hugely popular product, yet at no point has Nintendo been particularly close to meeting demand. Some speculate that the extensive hacking of the system could be a factor in phasing out production, but even that seems like a stretch.
Fingers crossed that Nintendo makes good on its word to make more of these systems and get them to retailers around the globe - it'd surely be a mistake to walk away from a good thing.