Guest post by Timothy Geigner of Techdirt
For a long time, we've been trying to debunk the "But people just want stuff for free" myth that purports to explain why the only proper strategy for infringement is heavy enforcement. Everyone should have instantly recognized that this was a dumb meme put forth by the content industries, so simple was the offered explanation for what is a vastly complex issue. Still, the meme persists, even in the face of contrary evidence.
Evidence such as the fact that Nintendo has had trouble keeping its classic consoles in stock to meet consumer demand. Earlier this year, Nintendo hit the brakes on manufacturing the classic NES mini console after selling over two million of them. The result on the secondary market was immediate. Prices for the retro console skyrocketed, with people desperately searching for one. The interest from the public was high enough that, as Nintendo is set to release the SNES mini console as a follow up, the company is going out of its way to assure the public that it is making enough of them to meet demands.
Earlier today, Nintendo announced that it will launch the SNES Classic on Sept. 29 for $79.99. The system will come preloaded with 21 games, and the package will include two SNES Classic Controllers. That’s all well and good, but considering that Nintendo vastly underestimated demand for the NES Classic last year, the question on everyone’s minds right now is this: Will the SNES Classic be just as impossible to find as its 8-bit predecessor was?
“We aren’t providing specific numbers, but we will produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition,” Nintendo said in a statement to Polygon.
So, I have a question: doesn't pretty much everyone who can afford these retro consoles also have a computer and smart phone capable of running emulators? And can't pretty much everyone fairly easily find these same games coming preloaded on these mini systems for free on the internet? The answer to both questions is "yes", except that Nintendo is still having to go out of its way to assure it will meet the paying customer's demand for these retro consoles. Why?
Well, the answer can't be "because everyone just wants free stuff", or there would be zero customer demand and everyone would be emulating. The actual answer is more likely that most people don't simply want everything for free and are happy to pay for something they want when its available. Add to that the nostalgia of actually having a familiar console from the good 'ol days connected to their TV and it's easy to see where all these sales are coming from, particularly when Nintendo's price points on the consoles and the bundles they come with are fairly good. It's worth specifically noting that these consoles come loaded with 20 or so classic games, while the internet comes bundled with all the games for free. Again, you cannot simply say that everyone just wants everything for free.
Leave it to Nintendo of all companies to finally put this one to rest.