Blogger's Note: Sorry for the bump, I wanted to just add some things this blog and when I tried to save it wouldn't go public and the spam filter came up. So this is just a test.
Part I: Introduction
So a few months ago Nintendo announced the SNES Classic Edition and as soon as the news went out, so did the sighs of millions who know how much of a pain it will be to find one. Yes it's that time again when Nintedo doesn't manufacture enough units and everyone gets frustrated which started earlier this year thanks to Walmart's screw up. We've been dealing with this crap since the Amiibo launch and it hasn't gotten any better. Sadly this has also gotten people to come up with crackpot conspiracies to explain these outages. Most claim Nintendo is purposfully limiting supply, though how they make a profit off that still makes no sense.
However I propose a different explaination, one that I can back up with proof and that can explain why Nintendo's manufacturing hasn't been the best lately.
Part II: Investigation
In order to explain let's take a look at the manufacturing history of Nintendo's consoles. I've put together two tables listing every Nintendo console and handheld with their years of release and manufacturer.
Note: List does not include revisions.
As you can see all consoles & handhelds from the 70's-90's were manufactured by Nintendo. However things began to change at the turn of the 20th century. Nintendo began relying on Foxconn to handle all manufacturing of consoles starting midway through the Gamecube while Nintendo made all handhelds until the DS. Then things get iffy at around the Wii U. It appears that at some point during the Wii U's life, Nintendo stopped using Foxconn and began manufacturing their own consoles.
This seemed very weird. Nintendo always had a good relationship with Foxconn. When they were Nintendo's sole manufacturer they never had any issues with manufacturing. Even when the Wii was almost impossible to find, it never really got as bad as Nintendo's current situation. However the more I looked into it, things started to become clearer. The Wii U had come out in 2012 and Nintendo didn't really start having manufacturing issues until 2014 with the introduction of Amiibo. Something must have happened at that time between Foxconn and Nintendo that ended their relationship. That's when I found a bombshell.
I started coming across articles from Kotaku and EuroGamer dated around October 16th-18th 2012 that mentioned some unsavory issues regarding the manufacturing of the Wii U. Allegedly Foxconn were caught hiring underaged workers to manufacture the Wii U.
The story was initially reported by several Chinese game outlets. The children were between the ages of 14-16 and were forced to work overtime. Several reports also claimed that the children were threatened with expulsion from school if they didn't continue to work. Nintendo was quick to resond and began a investigation into the matter. Stating that:
"Nintendo is in communication with Foxconn and is investigating the matter. We take our responsibilities as a global company very seriously and are committed to an ethical policy on sourcing, manufacture and labour."
"If we were to find that any of our production partners did not meet our guidelines, we would require them to modify their practices according to Nintendo's policy."
Two weeks later on the 24th, Nintendo had released another statement claiming that Foxconn accepted full responsibility for the incident and that they would be enforcing China's child labor laws and the company's own child labor policy. However Despite the reassurance from Foxconn, within the following year Nintendo would cease all manufacturing with the company and begin manufacturing their own consoles and handhelds.
Part III: Hypothesis
So you're probably wondering how does this all tie in with Nintendo's current manufacturing problem, well I have a theory but before we begin I have to put out a disclaimer.
Since the following is a theory, I can't completely prove it. I've tried to contact people at Nintendo and Foxconn but so far I haven't heard back from any of them. However I felt that certain events seem to fit together. So until then, the following will remain a theory until confirmed.
So here's what I think happened. Nintendo and Foxconn had a good relationship for six years straight with the Gamecube, Wii, DS & 3DS. When the Wii U was about to be released, whoever was running the manufacturing decided the best idea was to hire child labor to make more units. However a month before the Wii U's launch, Foxconn and Nintendo caught wind of what was going on. Foxconn fixed the problem but it was too late. Nintendo seeing this as a PR nightmare, pulled out from their deal with Foxconn and started manfacturing their own consoles.
Due to the low sales of the Wii U and moderate sucess of the 3DS, Nintendo was able to keep up with demand. That is until they announced the Amiibo in 2014. Now by that time Nintendo had ended production of the Wii and DS, which gave them more room for Amiibo. However due to space issues, they had to pick and choose which Amiibo to make more of, hence why some Amiibo are harder to find. When complaints about the Amiibo shortage came up, Nintendo used the West Coast Port Strike in early 2015 as an excuse for the shortage, not wanting to bring up the issues at Foxconn.
In 2016, Nintendo would begin manufacturing their next console, the Switch. This meant that they had to end production of the failing Wii U to make room. Then a problem appeared, with the Wii U's production ending and the Switch planned for a Spring 2017 release, they didn't have anything for the Holiday Season. Thus they created the NES Classic Edition to bide everyone's time until the Switch is released. However another problem arose, there wasn't enough room to manufacture enough units of the Switch and the NES Classic. Nintendo had to choose which to manufacture more of and with everything riding on the success of their new console, they chose the Switch. Hence the NES classic shortage.
Which brings us to the summer of 2017. Nintendo continues to manufacture Switch consoles and because of the high demand for the NES Classic and the freeing up of room, Nintendo will be bringing the SNES Classic to stores at the end of September.
Me by the end of writing this blog.
I apologize for the longwinded explaination but it's the best I could come up with all things considered.
Part IV: Conclusion
So with that being said, where does Nintendo go now? Well the obvious answer would be to build more manufacturing plants but that's easier said than done. The problem is they're straining themselves by manufacturing everything in Japan. With the rapidity of information on the internet, word of mouth about their new products get around faster, which means more demand. What I think Nintendo needs to do is to begin manufacturing by region. So all Asian products are manufactured in Japan, all NA products manufactured in America, All EU products in Europe etc. This way you spread it out so that there's no space or shipping issues and enough room to manufacture products for all regions.
However keep in mind this is just an idea and coming from someone who doesn't have much experience in this field. I don't know what the future holds for Nintendo and I don't know how they'll fix this problem but I hope they do. In the end all we ask for is to buy their products wthout tripping over everyone or staying up late online rapidly pressing F5 in the vain hope of getting their products. All we ask for is to walk into any retailer and purchase their products instead of going to scalpers on ebay selling them for ten times the original price. All we ask for is that Nintendo get their shit together and make our purchases hassle free.
Nintendo you make excellent consoles and games but you really need to step your game up.