So Nintendo announced that they’ll be releasing a cheap method to play NES games on your modern TVs by way of the NES Classic Edition. This miniature NES contains 30 preloaded NES games and will have an NES replica controller using the same connectors that Wii remote peripherals such as the classic controller and the nunchuck use.
People are asking why Nintendo didn’t announce online connectivity or a built in cartridge slot, saying that this little novelty system will fail without support to play more than those 30 games. Sega put a cartridge slot on their Genesis repro, why hasn’t Nintendo? It’s a very easy answer. To cut costs and keep the system at it’s $60 price point. To put it in perspective: a NES usually goes for about $50, and a copy of Super Mario 3 – included on the mini NES – is about $20. That alone pays for the device.
This isn’t being aimed at hardcore retro game enthusiasts. It’s being marketed towards the person who played NES growing up, but hasn’t touched games in years. This could be the dude next door who spends most of his time in his yard or playing with his kids. Or the woman who was a massive Mario fan in her early years, but stopped playing games when she hit high school. This is a cheap way to expand Nintendo’s brand recognition and hopefully pull in some of those people it lost over the years.
Adding extra functionality would take more time and more production costs to produce, inflating the price. Sure, Sega’s Genesis reproduction was cheap, but Nintendo isn’t about cheap quality over composite video. If they were going to do it, they’d do it WELL, and that would cost more. This system is likely running a modified virtual console emulator, meaning development time on this product was likely negligible as they already have that technology ready to go.
$60 for a novelty item that could provide a decent amount of fun is reasonable. $100 to $150 for a niche item that includes online functionality and a cartridge slot for those people who kept their NES games around is not going to appeal to the same audience. Simple as that.
Nintendo is aggressively looking to bring back those customers they lost when they released the Wii U, those people who don’t actively game very much. “Filthy casuals”. This comes as no surprise as Nintendo also recently released their widely inclusive Pokemon Go, which a ton of people are playing, including a good number who don’t actively game on traditional devices anymore. You may also want to look into this article at Gaming Rebellion, where Matt Schultz talks about how former president Iwata talked about bringing gaming to everyone in 2014, not just gamers.
So what I’m saying is that if you’re reading this article, you’re probably an invested video game enthusiast, and Nintendo likely isn’t looking for YOUR money.
—Thanks to Derik Moore for the line about a used NES and SMB costing more than this device.