Update: Just as this piece was going up, Toys R Us’ online allotment for the system sold out within minutes of becoming available for web ordering. And Nintendo provided Ars Technica with the following statement regarding availability:
The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition system is a hot item, and we are working hard to keep up with consumer demand. There will be a steady flow of additional systems through the holiday shopping season and into the new year. Please contact your local retailers to check product availability. A selection of participating retailers can be found at www.Nintendo.com/nes-classic.
Original story: Anyone who doubts the huge market power of Nintendo nostalgia would do well to look at the resale market for the miniature NES Classic Edition today, on the morning of the console’s release. Ars’ analysis of the 100 most recent successful eBay sales sees the tiny HDMI-powered unit, which comes pre-loaded with 30 classic NES games, going for an average price of $183.52.
That’s a more than 200-percent markup over the Classic Edition’s $59.99 retail price (the median resale price on eBay is a comparable $179.99). And that average doesn’t even include the single most lucrative auction we’ve seen for the console, which drew $499.99 from at least one buyer.
The immediate aftermarket price inflation comes after stores like GameStop, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart all declined to take preorders for the NES Classic Edition, forcing eager nostalgia-fueled gamers to line up to get limited supplies from brick-and-mortar stores today. Early reports from 24-hour Walmart locations (which had the unit available at midnight) suggest many locations only had six units to sell and had to send many in line home disappointed.
Amazon also did not take preorders for the console, and the online retailer says it will have “very limited quantities” available around 2pm PST today. Amazon has even turned off one-click ordering for the system to give more people a chance to get their orders in. “Demand is expected to be very high, and there’s no guarantee that it will remain in stock for long,” Amazon said in an e-mail.
Nintendo’s own singular retail outlet in New York City’s Rockefeller Center only had 250 NES Classic Edition units to sell to the first guests arriving at an ’80s-themed launch night party last night.
The high resale price for the Classic Edition does seem to be attracting a good number of resellers trying to flip their consoles on eBay’s marketplace—the auction site shows well over 800 successful auctions for the system in just the last 24 hours. That supply obviously has yet to satisfy the demand from those who can’t (or don’t want to try) to find a system at retail, though.
At this point, it’s hard to say if the Classic Edition’s inflated aftermarket price is a launch day blip or a situation that will last through the holiday season. After the Wii U’s launch, eBay prices for the system initially spiked to as much as $750 on eBay but quickly came down to earth as demand was satisfied. On the other end of the spectrum, though, widespread retail shortages for the ultra-popular Wii lasted well over a year, forcing Nintendo to deny that the limited supply was a conspiracy.
A lot depends on just how many more Classic Edition NES systems Nintendo is able to get to retailers before the holiday shopping season really heats up. Polygon reports that a second wave of shipments is expected “in just a couple of weeks,” which would mean Black Friday door-busters might be your next best chance to find the system in stores after the expected sell-out today.