After the Nintendo Gamecube’s subpar performance relative to its competition, the company seemed to shift focus to a new approach for selling hardware and games. Instead of trying to have the best visuals or the latest franchises, they went for unique designs and embraced nostalgic re-releases of classic games. This is a trend that continues to this day. However, more recently, Nintendo has added a much more manipulative tactic to this overall strategy. The use of artificial scarcity to trigger consumers’ fear of missing out (FOMO).
Game consoles have always been a hot commodity. I don’t recall a time that has been more true than it is now. Yet, Nintendo’s production system seems to intentionally underproduce popular products specifically to limit their availability. Perhaps the long-running demand of the Nintendo Wii showed them how significant this interest could be. Now, nearly every product the company releases is in limited quantity and sells out numerous times despite the use of preorders and well-documented demand. Every scalper knows you just need to track down whatever the latest and greatest Nintendo product is and you can flip it for many times the retail price. This occurred with both the NES and SNES Classic Editions.
Today marks a new day in Nintendo’s effort to manipulate their fans. As of March 31st, 2021, you can no longer play the online Super Mario Bros. 35 game, and you can’t purchase a digital version of Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Nintendo has also ceased production of the physical version of the latter. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light are also included in this expiration date. There is no logical reasoning for this move. The only conclusion I can come to is that it seems to have happened solely to generate hype and make consumers feel like they’ll be missing out if they don’t buy/play these games when they’re available. I’m positive that it has worked in many cases and managed to make what are essentially all re-released titles top sellers on a modern-day console.
The problem here is that this consumer manipulation will continue and grow. Given that it is already a product of a systemic process, I assume more games and products will be released on a limited basis and in limited quantities. The free press Nintendo received is worth its weight in gold. I’ve even seen several sensationalist articles with titles like “Nintendo is Killing Mario!” The only part that doesn’t make sense is that the company didn’t use that to shuffle in their next limited-run consumer manipulation scheme to convince their committed fans to re-buy more games from decades ago. I suppose they still have time to cash in on the manufactured fanfare though.