Video Games

Why did Nintendo announce the Super Nintendo Classic Edition now?

After the successful launch of the Nintendo Classic Edition last November, Nintendo curiously decided to discontinue the product in April. But with this weeks announcement of the Super Nintendo Classic Edition, it looks as if Nintendo is doubling down on a past strategy -- even if it's still finding its footing in new areas, particularly mobile.

"Though Nintendo’s recent foray into mobile gaming has been moderately successful, it really feels like its launches of three bits of smaller gaming hardware – the NES Mini, the Switch, and now the SNES Classic Edition, will end up generating quite a bit more revenue, which is not the outcome I would necessarily have expected a year and a half ago," Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson said.

The SNES Classic will retail for $79.99 and be released on Sept. 29 according to the company. It will come with 21 games already installed, including games such as "Super Mario World," "Super Mario Kart," and "Super Metroid." Also included is a never-before released game, "Star Fox 2."

With Nintendo having mixed success with smart device games, Dawson sees this as a side bet Nintendo is making, noting "Nintendo doesn’t yet seem to have really cracked its mobile gaming strategy."

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Games such as "Super Mario Run" have been popular in terms of downloads, but Nintendo said it did not generate the revenue it wanted to from the game, perhaps because of the $10 initial fee to play the game. Conversely, games such as "Fire Emblem Heroes" and "Pokemon Go" (Nintendo owns a stake in the games developer, Niantic) have had more success. These games have been free to download, but have in-app purchases, consistent with other free-to-play mobile games. 

Nearly a year after its initial release date and several major updates, "Pokemon Go" is still at the tops of the App Store for Top grossing games, ranked sixth, ahead of apps such as Tinder, HBO Now, Hulu and Spotify.

If the SNES Classic proves to be as big of a hit as recent Nintendo console launches, it will have another hit on its hands. In an April interview with Time, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé said the company sold 2.3 million Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Editions, despite the console constanly being in short supply. 

In a statement to games website Polygon, Nintendo tried to assuage fears that it would not have enough SNES mini consoles available. “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.

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Nintendo's latest console, the Switch, has also been a hit with consumers. In a recent call with investors, Nintendo said it sold 2.74 million Switch units in the first month it was available and has plans to sell as many 10 million more the rest of the year, though some analysts expect that number to be significantly higher based on demand. 

The SNES, which was originally launched in 1991, will also help to reintroduce what some see as the greatest console ever.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

Since the release of "Pokemon Go," Nintendo has been on a resurgence. Its share price has performed well over the past 12 months, consumers are clamoring for its devices and games and it's getting significant media attention. 

With this latest SNES announcement, this is just another feather in the proverbial Mario cap for Nintendo.