The NES Classic Edition was likely discontinued to make way for an SNES Classic, but Nintendo should aim higher.
Now that the sun has set on the NES Classic Edition, rumours of Nintendo’s next nostalgia project have begun to surface in the form of the SNES Classic. The appeal of the classic systems is that Nintendo wants consumers like myself to relive their past memories of joyfully playing Nintendo games as children. Nintendo isn’t wrong in reading the market, I would gladly give them my money to relive a piece of my childhood (assuming they made enough for everyone) and I would be first in line to pre-order. The problem I see is that Nintendo is too focused on what may be a short term craze of nostalgia and not on creating new memories for the next generation of gamers.
The greatest asset that Nintendo has over current and future competitors is that no company can create a product that will erase 30 years of memories. I still remember the Christmas morning I opened up my gift from Santa and there was my original Nintendo. The games I played as a child are still to this day my favourites and not a year goes by when I don’t play through them again and again. My love for Nintendo only grew stronger with each passing generation, and as of this day I currently have 4 systems hooked up to an old CRT television and 2 more connected to my HDTV. It doesn't matter how many Playstations, Xboxes, Ouya’s, or iOS games come out, nothing can replace those memories.
This leads me back to the rumours of the SNES classic, a product marketed to the thirty something gamer with disposable income. In the short term, this seems like an easy decision to make but I think this is where Nintendo should be looking at the long term. Most of our kids are likely playing our systems, but it's not the same feeling as owning it themselves. To recreate that same market that started in the 80’s, Nintendo needs to create a new product at a price point that adults feel they can purchase the system for their children without feeling the need to keep the system for themselves. The need for this product is based on the safe assumption that Nintendo has no plans to drop the price of the Switch below $100.
I’m not naive enough to think someone at Nintendo hasn't already come to the exact same conclusion as I did. I believe the current answer to the indoctrination of kids into the Nintendo Ecosystem is the Nintendo 2DS.
The 2DS does provide children with a system of their own, I just believe that the experience of playing The 2DS isn’t the same as a console. To illustrate my point let's take a look at audiophiles. There have been dozens of case studies and research into the debate of analog vs digital. If you know an audiophile I’m sure you've heard many rants that digital music cannot compete with vinyl records. Many of us would argue that for the less refined ear the music quality is equal, the difference is the experience that the listeners creates when they feel connected to the record.
So Nintendo, if you’re listening and if you care, here's my pitch:
- A console visually identical to the NES classic that has access to a virtual console that can download games
- An eShop available to indie developers
- NES, SNES, N64 controllers with the same Wii style port (cause we know you need to make money off accessories)
- And lastly, but most importantly, plastic NFC cards to mimic cartridges that you can put inside the NES that will automatically download and start the game. There is something lost when games come from the air, the ability for kids to be able to feel the games and take them to their friends house is a key part of the experience.
A new system that can play up to 64 bit games that is marketed to a new generation of gamers would be music to the ears of developers large and small alike. In the current gaming landscape it's difficult to impossible for a single person to develop and market a game to console. A console with a mass audience created by offering Nintendo classic games could create an environment where developers like Toby Fox could thrive. The successful launch of the Switch has begun to lure back third parties to Nintendo but how excited would SquareEnix be if Nintendo provided them a platform to resell Final Fantasy on SNES to a new generation of kids.
This is a huge ask of Nintendo since they have already placed their bets on the 2DS but I know a couple of kids in my household that would become Nintendo fans the rest of their lives if they opened this on Christmas Day.
However, if Nintendo were to completely ignore my grand scheme of a modern retro console that returned us to simpler times, Nintendo could at least do their legion of loyal followers a favor and make sure there is enough stock of whatever next classic-style console they make available.