NES Classic's Ebay Price Triples, Surprising No One

Yesterday, Nintendo announced they were discontinuing production of the NES Classic within North America. With demand high, I was curious to see how things were playing out on eBay. Turns out, it's a lot like when Michael Jackson died.

Slightly baffled by Nintendo's business decision, I took a look at how the NES Classic's value shifted among collectors and resellers in reaction to the news. This meant digging through eBay. My initial interest wasn't in the overall price increase. I wanted to see the most absurd auctions. Plenty of people are eager to own an NES Classic.

That meant opportunists were sure to sweep in and angle for a few suckers willing to blow untold sums on a hyped-up emulator.

I wasn't disappointed:

Holy crap, look at that! Now, these aren't necessarily "real" postings. They're mostly there to seize upon hysteria, test the waters, and see if Daddy Morebucks decides he really needs a new console. With a little more digging, it turned out that the highest price for which a unit actually sold was closer to $US400 ($528). People were willing to pay as much for a NES Classic as a Nintendo Switch.

To get a better sense of the data, I turned to JJ Hendricks over at PriceCharting, a website that scrapes eBay and tracks historical prices. Data on new sales showed that listings for the NES Classic averaged at $US143.73 ($190) in March. For April, the average is $US352.20 ($465).

It starts to paint a picture, albeit one that falls within the expected range. When supply goes down and demand remains the same, the price will increase. Plenty of people want an NES Classic, particularly now that they have the added allure of exclusivity, which can send demand higher. People want stuff when there's less stuff to share? People pay more. I vaguely remember all of this from high school.

But data charted over the course of a month only paints a general idea of what might be happening. It only confirms the expected results of limiting supply. The better question is gauging how resellers reacted over the last few days. JJ sat down to crunch those numbers for me from a small sample pool:

With more specific data, we can actually form a narrative. A day before the announcement, NES Classics were selling for an average of $US106 ($140). That's alright considering the retail price was $US59.99 ($79) and demand was already high. In fact, that price that was slowly decreasing as the holiday season moved firmly into the rear view mirror.

That price remains the same on the following morning before slightly increasing. Then the discontinuation news breaks.

You'd think that this is the moment where prices take a jump. I definitely expected that to be the case, but the data shows that the announcement had more of a ripple effect. The average price actually rested at $US220 ($290) by the end of the day. When the news hits, people scooped up the lower listings that were made before the announcement. As the demand becomes clearer, prices leapt.

That bring us to today. The average this afternoon rests at $US335 ($442). It's about 52% increase from the previous day and a 219% increase from where prices were on Wednesday. That value increases only slightly if you're purchasing a modified console with more games. I looked at the average of every modded console I could find a listing for.

Ignoring that selling unauthorised copies of games is a violation of eBay's terms of service and also illegal, the average price on listings was $US345.50 ($456). Some listings are really low, some are really high, but they cancel each other out and hardly increased the price overall compared to a vanilla console.

It turns out, Hendricks says, that the pattern of the data is similar to another case: the increase of sales price for Sega Genesis cult classic Moonwalker after Michael Jackson's death in 2009. There's a detailed breakdown at PriceCharting, but the gradual increase in price is a shared theme. Prices only increased slightly on the day of Jackson's death before increasing by 497.40% the day after. It's a bit more drastic than the NES Classic's rise, but they share the same "delayed ripple" effect.

Moonwalker prices lowered over the next few days. Instead of the the high price of $US131 ($173), it settled at a little over $US60 ($79). There's going to be demand for the NES Classic for a while and prices will fluctuate up and down. If Nintendo doesn't introduce a substitute product, we may see an even bigger increase come Christmas.

If you still feel you've absolutely got to have one and you miss out on the final shipment this month, the best course of action might actually be to bide your time like a super-villain and wait for the right moment to strike.

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Comments

    Just use common sense and emulate the shit out of NES classic games. Nintendo does not deserve money for this and scalpers don't deserve to profit for this.

      Pretty much. I got a Raspberry Pi unit preconfigured for $10 more than the retail on a Mini NES Classic. While the sound isn't that great (It's a lot lower than expected) it still emulates everything to near-perfection. Well worth the money compared to the Nintendo official rip off

      Just use common sense and emulate the shit out of NES classic games.

      WHOA! Back up a bit!

      That isn't common sense, that is illegal. Even if the software portion is allowed to be copied, it is the art work that makes up the game that cannot be copied.

      I know Nintendo's handling of the NES classic is nonsensical but that doesn't justify condoning an illegal act.

        I think in plenty of people's minds it does condone it. Nintendo do everything in their power to make wilfully obtruse decisions and piss off consumers
        There is obviously a massive demand for legacy games and so far no major player is willing to provide consumers with a way to play these games aside from the occasional drip feed of specific titles which are outrageously prices.
        Given how easily nes and snes titles can be flawlessly emulated by external third party coders, it would be easy as shit for Nintendo to provide every title they've ever released on nes and snes and simply charge a subscription fee for their use.

        But no. We get gimmicky shit like the nes classic which Nintendo intentionally under manufacture and artificially control the demand. And the thing is a closed system which can't be upgraded and is limited to 30 games. The whole thing stinks of poo.

          Plenty of people rationalize their way into all sorts of things and feel equally self righteous about it.

          Just keep in mind the bloke who steals your car (or whatever it is you do own) has every bit an equally impassioned rant for why its ok and you deserve it.

          People talk about Nintendo as if they were poisoning poor kids in Africa. Its idiotic

            It's not quite the same argument... no car's being stolen. Just saying ;) And let's not all get all self righteous shall we, despite people proclaiming otherwise, I'll bet bottom dollar we could check our browser histories and find streams, torrents, mp3's etc that would show we're all guilty of the exact same thing. Some of us are just open and honest about it.

              Might be closer to forging money. You're not stealing it just copying it.

        Sorry man, I won't support Nintendos practices and business ethics, so yes, in a sense it does condone it. Is it ethical? Not really. Is it sensible? Yeah.

          If Nintendo's antics are beyond the pale and avoid their products and don't go encourage people to put themselves at the receiving end of $27,000+ fines; $302,000+ if the individual is by any form a business.

          As the other expression goes; two wrongs don't make a right.

          Nintendo's actions are wrong but they do not deserve an increase in piracy as a response nor does anyone have the right to do so as a response.

          You want to send a message to Nintendo? Encourage people to ditch Nintendo's current offering and encourage the competitors; Sony and Microsoft.

            don't go encourage people to put themselves at the receiving end of $27,000+ fines; $302,000+ if the individual is by any form a business.

            If anyone pirates on the internet, it's of their own volition, just as, if I do, it's of my own volition. I am not responsible for what others do and I won't be beholden to the delusion that I am just by putting those words on a message board, sorry dude.

      Scalpers definitely don't deserve it but at the end of the day it's Nintendo's IP and they can do as they wish.

    I'm now expecting a SNES classic to be announced for this Christmas. If they wanted to get supply up for then, they'd have to shutter the production of NES version.

    The internet will break if they don't vastly upscale production for the SNES one, which I would be several thousand times more inclined to purchase over the NES.

    After hearing about the panic and stress people were going through to get one I paid the console no attention. I was waiting for the market to flood and pick one up cheap. Heard about the discontinuation yesterday. Today walked in to a JB hi-fi store and picked one up. They had heaps left over...

    Living in a small town is awesome sometimes. =)

    Hmmm, we aren't playing ours anymore, maybe we should sell it. We have two controllers plus the extension cables....

    Pretty crazy, considering they're still for sale on ebgames

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