Strong sales for Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition, a miniature version of its video game console from the 80s, could point to a new revenue stream for the Japanese games maker.
The NES Classic Edition sold 196,000 units in November in the U.S. since its launch on November 11, according to industry tracker NPD Group.
Demand for the console far outstripped supply, with many retailers selling out of the product.
The NES Classic Edition is a miniature version of the original console, which was released in North America in 1985 and has sold 61 million units worldwide. The Classic Edition is a “plug-and-play” device, meaning it just needs to be plugged into a television and comes bundled with 30 retro games.
In Japan, a similar product called the Nintendo Classic Famicom sold 261,381 units in its first week of sales, according to data from Media Create.
Steve Bailey, senior games analyst for IHS Technology, explained why the NES Classic Edition has proven to be so popular.
“The NES Classic Mini has stood out for the quality of its realisation and the extent of catalogue it carries, and I think there’s certainly more room to be explored on this front, for other platforms, and other console generations,” he told CNBC via email.
The strong sales may prompt Nintendo to produce other versions of the device with different varieties of games from its long library of titles, but Bailey warned that returns may diminish quickly.
“The NES Classic Mini, while far from comprehensive in its catalogue, does cover the bulk of cachet, when it comes to Nintendo’s 8-bit IP. I imagine that for many who were sufficiently fond of the NES to want to buy a Classic Mini, its content is near-enough definitive.”
Other companies have made similar moves to Nintendo and produced plug-and-play versions of their old consoles. For example, Sega launched a plug-and-play version of the Sega Genesis in 2012.
However, Nintendo’s offering is likely to be more successful than other re-launches.
“Nintendo has some of the most commanding IP in video gaming, so sales for similar releases from other platforms/companies may be more muted,” Bailey said.