Sanity’s Other Side: While Supplies Last

Or how Nintendo missed Christmas

Smash Bros bundle box

With the advent of the newest Smash Brothers and Nintendo’s Amiibo initiative, we have must-have accessories arriving tempting us as we buy our must-have games this winter. That is, if they were on the store shelf to begin with. The Inverseman investigates.

Quick. What is the best way to play Smash Brothers? If you answered Gamecube controller, you would be correct, although Classic or Pro Controller is also an acceptable answer. When the newest Smash Bros was announced, fans were worried if there would be a familiar and standardized method of control that wasn’t named the Wii Remote, so the collective sighs of relief and cheers of celebration were expected when the GCN adapter was revealed at E3.

Smash GCN adapter

So shortly after the hallowed arrival of Smash Bros for Wii U, the adapters sold out a mere few days later. With little response from Nintendo and no sign of new stock coming anytime soon, the secondary market exploded with prices ranging from $40 to $120, effectively doubling the price of the game when you think about how near-necessary the adapter is. Amazon of Europe even refunded their worried customers after little to no response from Nintendo themselves about a restock. Nintendo eventually did give a reply that more adapters were on their way, but the Amiibos were another story.

Amiibo Marth

Second pop quiz: which classic Nintendo SRPG series soared to critical popularity thanks to having its cast members be mid to high tier in Smash Bros? If your answer was obviously Fire Emblem, then you are correct. So no doubt that fans would flock to store shelves for a Marth Amiibo. Sadly, all the Marth figures, including the Villager and Wii Fit Trainer, were all gone, leaving only a sea of boring old vanilla-flavored Marios. Customers and suppliers inquired yet again but Nintendo was curiously silent, same as with the adapters. Meanwhile ebay prices soared. When a response did come, Nintendo mentioned that not all Amiibos would have a second print run, and that’s where our problems truly begin.

Disney Infinity Avengers

While the Amiibos aren’t mandatory like the Gamecube adapters, they were touted to be part of Nintendo’s plan to reinvigorate themselves in the market. Suddenly discontinuing parts of this product line isn’t going to attract customers anytime soon. From a profits-focused perspective, a perspective I’ll be taking throughout the article, making buyers aware that a select few figurines are limited edition would be lucrative and would’ve had my own Marth pre-ordered for sure, but it only works when consumers and suppliers are aware, forcing a snap decision to make the purchase. Meanwhile, Skylanders and Disney Infinity don’t show this issue with sudden supplies of Mickey Mouse or Captain America vanishing; Activision and Disney got it right, so how did one of the biggest names in video games not?

Hori RAP V4

Meanwhile the GCN adapter shortages are rather silly. While Nintendo does not enjoy recognizing the competitive merits of their games (with the exception of The Pokemon Company), they’re still aware of their relevance to their consumers. Gamecube controllers, for better or for worse, are the standardized method of control for Nintendo’s flagship fighter; they’re analogous to an arcade stick for more traditional fighting games. To not have the generally accepted form of control at the ready would be like hosting a Street Fighter tournament without arcade sticks. It doesn’t really matter that the game is playable even with a lone Wiimote but that the consumer-base feels obligated to experience the game in such a specific manner. Once again looking from as much a profits-focused lens as possible, we have an accessory that is perceived as a requirement, which should spell sales.

Pokebank delays

Furthermore, many more adapters should have been in the first shipment, not for the diehards that pre-ordered, but for the wave of fence-sitters debating over getting the game. Even if they’re swayed to purchase the game, they’ll quickly back out upon realizing that they are “unable” to play it. It is imperative for those possible buyers to be supplied with what they perceive to be necessary for the game and outside of fulfilling the preorders, winning over the sea of “swing buyers” out there for their huge AAA level game should have been Nintendo’s first priority.  Much like the PokeBank server crashes, Nintendo was once again unprepared to accept their own magnitude.

Mega Blaziken

The real issue at hand is the difference between short and long term goals. Smash Bros is a very long living game. People will continue playing this iteration of the series for years. Putting an invisible time limit on an accessory  for a game that people will keep buying and playing for a long time won’t push maybes to begrudged yeses like the free Torchics or other complaint-inducing day-one-DLC, but rather ex post facto feelings of regret. If this was to be treated like day-one-DLC, it certainly did not accomplish the flash purchases it was supposed to because of poor communication. If Smash Bros is expected to have a long shelf-life, add-ons that may as well be required should be marketed similarly, knowing that the game will continue to be supported long past launch thereby continuing to attract buyers or be that impending force that makes people purchase it now, pulling the rug from underneath consumers’ feet accomplishes neither.

Skylanders logo

As for short-term goals, these moves reduce buyer confidence around one of the most financially critical periods, the winter holiday seasons. With Amiibo shortages, parents are more likely to pick up a starter kit of tried and true Skylanders for their kids than Nintendo’s new more temperamental product line. For those looking for GCN alternatives Hori’s Battlepad is a Classic Controller that looks and feels just like a GCN controller, and Mayflash has released a third party adapter that also works on PCs; dollars that could have gone to the Big N.

Hori Battle Pad Pikachu

GCN adapters are back in stock now with a catch, they’re exclusively bundled with extra controllers or the game itself at no discount. Complaints about Gamestop’s business practices aside, it will generate the revenue Nintendo is looking for, but the damage is done. It will be difficult to make up for quite a few disappointments with Christmas over. If artificial scarcity was the goal, it certainly was not properly executed this time. While this season will still be successful, and my Lucina Amiibo will be pre-oredered now, there were  many missed opportunities for Nintendo to generate funds and rebuild consumer base this winter. Join me next time when I wait hours on end for a pastry.

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Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

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