Stock Shortage  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Stock Shortage  RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network The Switch Is Selling Out Fast, But Is It Genuine Demand Or False Scarcity? Tue, 17 Jan 2017 07:37:56 -0500 Rob Kershaw

It’s only been four days since the Nintendo Switch Presentation, but there are already multiple reports of outlets selling out of their allotted number of units prior to the March 3rd launch date.

Both Amazon and Amazon UK are listing the console as unavailable, as is Gamestop. GAME -- one of the largest UK games retailers -- has published a statement stating that they have moved to only taking pre-orders, but there’s no guarantee that the console will be available for the launch date. Other UK retailers including ShopTo and Zavvi have followed suit.

But is this a case of genuine demand for the new console, or are Nintendo deliberately fostering shortages in order to increase demand and generate headlines?

As any parent who has suffered on the run up to the holiday season knows, fads can take on a momentum of enormous proportions. If that year’s “must-have” plaything is out of stock, demand for it will increase. The more people hear about shops selling out, the more desperate they become to get one before they miss their window. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle.

The NES Classic is the perfect example of this. Originally pitched as a nostalgia item, Nintendo was apparently taken aback by the sheer demand for the retro console. Shortages abounded -- but given the modest price point, and the fact that the 2016 ESA study showed that the average age of gamers is 35 -- it shouldn’t have come as a shock to the company. Nostalgia sells, and the original NES was released in the formative years of many gamers’ lives -- so it’s not surprising that people wanted to revisit their childhood over Christmas.

Or, so we’re led to believe.

The NES Classic was announced in July 2016, and the buzz kicked off immediately. If Nintendo’s sales and marketing teams were unaware of the significant interest in the new gadget, then it’s difficult to fathom why. Multiple news outlets reported huge numbers of hits on their breaking news articles about the gadget, but if you wanted to find an NES Classic in December you were at the mercy of eBay hucksters pushing prices up to eye-watering levels.

How could Nintendo have possibly got the demand so wrong?

Perhaps they didn’t.

After all, this isn’t the first time that the Japanese company has struggled to fulfill demand. The original Wii -- the best-selling console of the last generation -- was in short supply for years following its launch, with a statement being released eight months after launch declaring that demand would continue to outstrip supply.

Both the DS and 3DS faced shortages as well. And though they were nowhere near the level of the Wii, they were enough to frustrate gamers who were willing to throw cash at the handhelds.

So when the Switch starts to bear all of the hallmarks of Nintendo’s console scarcity, questions begin to get asked. In a recent interview, Nintendo’s president has already promised that 2 million units will be available for launch. How these are being divided up and distributed in the West is unclear, though, as retailers certainly appear to be offering a gloomier perspective on unit availability.

But to take a more reasonable approach, you need to flip the question and ask why Nintendo would deliberately create a shortage of the console. The Wii U performed abysmally, and the company’s stock price tanked after the unexpectedly high price point of the Switch was revealed alongside a dearth of launch titles. If they want to reassure investors, Nintendo needs to sell units -- and sell them by the boatload. Restricting supply may generate news, but it won’t bring in immediate cash flow.

The PS4 sold out at launch, and there was even worse news for anyone wanting to pick up a PSVR for Christmas -- but in comparison, this news barely gained traction. The issue is that Nintendo has consistently struggled to meet demand with their new consoles -- and even peripherals. Their amiibo distribution was so poor that Nintendo of America even issued an apology due to customer backlash over the scarcity of the figures. 

They now bear a historical burden of supply failure, which has led to cynicism about whether this is simply their go-to marketing model for a launch. The fact that the amiibo shortage didn't hurt their sales sparked even more speculation about that approach.

But things may be slightly different this time around. Nintendo is releasing the Switch off the back of both a failed console and a handheld which is likely to be made redundant in the portable market. For them, this is a must-sell console. They need it to be a hit on launch day. Deliberately causing manufacturing shortages makes little financial sense, since wary investors aren’t interested in perceived sales at this point. If people are still clamoring to buy it given the scarce number of original games that will be available in March, then it’s absolutely in Nintendo's best interests to get the units shipped as soon as possible.

The bottom line is that if there truly are limited numbers of the Switch hitting the West by March, Nintendo will need to take a long, hard look at their manufacturing process as there is every possibility that the choke points -- wherever they are -- could hurt the console’s success dearly.

Amiibos...nervensäge! Sun, 16 Aug 2015 18:44:29 -0400 Zach Stratton

For those of you who don't speak German (like me...I Googled that phrase), "nervensäge" roughly translates to "pain in the arse," which pretty much describes exactly how I feel about amiibos.

Don't get me wrong, I love them. They are attractive, well-crafted, and make great desk pieces for gaming-inclined folks. And that's even before we get to the collection aspect! My inner collector went wild when these plastic badboys were announced. I'm not the "keep in the box and don't breathe on them" kind of collector, but I do want them. ALL OF THEM.

Indeed. Because "Smash Bros"

And that is the crux of the issue. I want all of them, but some of them are impossible to find. For example, I had to import my Lucario from Japan. Greninja still eludes me.

Sad State of Affairs

People stand in lines for hours outside of Toys R Us and GameStop for the chance, and not even a good one at that, of snagging one of the rare ones. Nintendo has seemingly created a small supply for what has become a HUGE demand. 

Perhaps, they didn't anticipate the huge success of their figures.

This was an acceptable answer when the first ones rolled off the production lines. But now they know that Amiibos are huge. They should be able to handle the demand. I'm not saying they have to flood the market with rare amiibos; that would defeat the purpose. But when 1 in 10 people get a particular amiibo, there is a problem.

This artificially created shortage is further compounded by the scalpers. I don't fault anyone for making a few bucks where they can - life is hard and money don't grow on trees. But some of these scalpers are asking for ludicrous prices... And they're getting them! The culture of amiibo collecting at this time is a little off-putting to all but the most die-hard collectors.

I think I saw this in the news... Right?


Looking back through what I've wrote, it occurs to me now that this is a little bit of a nerd rage about not having Greninja. But I am curious, what are your thoughts? 

The Amiibo Famine: Tales of Love and Loss Fri, 10 Jul 2015 02:30:01 -0400 KungFro

During the early stages of my Super Smash Bros. for Wii U hype, I somehow convinced myself that I was going to be the proud owner of a Robin amiibo. Through my teachings – a.k.a. ruthless Thoron spam accompanied by me singing "I'll Make a Man Out of You" – he would have become a legend.

...Unfortunately, I highly doubt I'll ever get my hands on one of the damned things. I mean, I totally could have had one by now if I was willing to indulge the scalpers that bought them all, but no. I've accepted my fate.

Prologue: Innocence

Anyone who knows me on a gaming basis knows two things about me:

  1. I am a purebred Fire Emblem fanatic with no intentions of going to rehab.
  2. I have [quite] a bit of a sadistic streak when it comes to Super Smash Bros. 

These two truths combined made the idea of having Robin as my own little amiibo-buddy sound pretty cool. I also wanted Lucina – I own Fire Emblem Awakening and  both characters grew on me – but Robin's style meshed better with mine. I'd already heard about how Wii Fit Trainer's popularity brought about her amiibo's extinction, but I was sure that that wasn't going to happen with Robin.

The In-Between: Anger

Mere seconds had passed before Wave 4 was no more. I sat in disbelief, staring blankly at the words "SOLD OUT." By the time I came to, I had regressed to toddler-esque levels of possessiveness. I was genuinely livid that they were all gone before I even came close to getting one. The worst part was knowing that it wasn't just fans of the series that bought them out.

I know that, somewhere, some guy is sitting pretty on top of a huge stack of Robin amiibo figures. I'd already resolved against purchasing from him, because, frankly, the idea of scalping disgusts me. I work too hard for my money to let my wallet be picked apart by vultures. I can choose not to victimize myself... but what about the children?

Epilogue: Disappointment

I'm a 21 year-old male who admits to wanting to throw a tantrum over a toy. I suppose now it's truer to say that I wanted to throw a tantrum; it didn't take long to remember that, somewhere, someone much younger than I wanted that Robin amiibo more than I ever did.*

*Well, maybe not more than I do now – the upcoming Fire Emblem Fates cameo has reignited my rage – but at least I'm not hurting over it. It just sucks that some kid out there may be.

It is without regret that I cleanse myself of this amiibo madness. I may never own a Robin amiibo, but that Mulan montage will forever await a worthy pupil.

PS4 Demand in Europe Outpaces Supply Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:59:41 -0400 Kibret.Tsige

Ever since launch the Playstation 4 has been ahead of both the Xbox One and Wii U in terms of sales. Despite this Sony could be doing even better, especially in Europe, but their sales have been slowed down by supply issues. Sony admits that some consumers may have been driven to the competition or grown disinterested due to lack of availability.

In an interview with Trusted Reviews, Sony Computer Entertainment UK Managing Director Fergal Gara said that they're "still dealing with the day one market" and that they "may have lost some sales." In certain countries, such as Germany, stores stocking the PS4 sell out their inventory on a weekly basis and are still unable to mee the demand. The significant backlog of potential customers is still being dealt with but Sony remains optimistic. 

In Europe, the PS4 is Practically Vanishing Off Shelves

Gara went on to say that "[w]e have spent a lot of time at E3 talking about the plan for Christmas and I think we've got enough exciting content to be able to rekindle that interest." Luckily, the European market has been an area where the Xbox has generally been weak and the Playstation has experienced great success. Last generation PS3 sales in Europe managed to exceed 360 sales in the same region as early as 2008.