Update on April 13: Well, it was fun while it lasted. Nintendo has now discontinued the NES Classic in North America.
Update on Feb. 14: TechRadar has received a statement from Nintendo of Europe confirming that, yes, the NES Classic Edition is still in production and "will continue to ship units to retail on a regular basis." There's no reason to think this doesn't hold true for Nintendo of America as well, though they still haven't responded to our request for comment.
Original story: Despite the occasional restock at stores like Target, Amazon and Best Buy, a lot of nostalgic video game fans are still fighting to get their hands on an NES Classic Edition. The mini-console includes 30 classic Nintendo games playable on modern TVs for the low price of $59.99. There were lines at retailers today full of people hoping to obtain one of the very limited but highly coveted systems.
But you might start hearing some scary rumors going around that claim the system is at the end of its life and that Nintendo is ceasing production.
If this sounds insane (who stops making something that has been flying off store shelves? Does Nintendo hate money?), it's because it probably is.
The rumor is being spread primarily by a post on the popular video game forum NeoGAF, on which a user who works for "a large Nordic retailer" says, "We just got word from Nintendo (or rather, their Nordic distributor Bergsala) that the NES Classic Mini has reached its end of life and will be phased out. According to them production has ended and we will be receiving a few more shipments before everything dries up."
According to them, they will receive their last shipment of the system in April or May.
The user linked to a Facebook post from another Nordic retailer that shared the same news.
A few things worth noting:
- Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said just last month that Nintendo is continuing to send more NES Classic systems to stores. On Feb. 1, Nintendo of Japan said that the company was working to increase production of the system.
- This discontinuation has only been brought up in Nordic countries. Nobody at US stores like GameStop has received any notice (yet) about the end of the NES Classic's life.
- The NES Classic was recently hacked so that new games could be added. You might think Nintendo doesn't mind this too much, but the company is tends to be extremely strict when it comes to security. It could be that they're ceasing production of "version 1.0" of the console so that they can start producing one that isn't as easily hacked.
- The Nintendo Switch is out in less than a month, and at least in theory, Nintendo wants all eyes on that.
The first bullet point should be the most encouraging to those still hoping to buy the classic game system. It's hard to imagine that Nintendo would go from wanting to increase production to stopping it altogether in the span of two weeks, considering the system has been a success. Unless Nintendo is losing money on every NES Classic Sold (which I would say is extremely unlikely, considering the technology inside of it), I can't see a business case where this would make sense.
Then again, this is Nintendo we're talking about. Their decisions don't always make sense.
Many online have speculated that Nintendo might be stopping production of the NES Classic Edition to free up factory bandwidth for either the Nintendo Switch (Nintendo's next home console, launching on March 3) or for an SNES Classic Edition, which has not been announced but which seems like a no-brainer given the success of the NES Classic. Interesting theories, but ones that amount to nothing more than baseless speculation.
Nintendo says it has sold through 1.5 million NES Classic Edition units worldwide (that number includes the Famicom Classic Edition, which is the Japanese version of the console). The company has not responded to a request for comment about the production rumor.