Courtesy of Nintendo

Gaming giant could be all-in on the retro craze.

By Chris Morris
July 21, 2017

One of the hottest items last holiday season was Nintendo’s short-lived NES Classic Edition. The story looks set to repeat itself this year, as the company rolls out the SNES Classic Edition. And if a recent trademark filing is any indication, Nintendo could be planning a hat trick for holiday 2018.

Recent filings in Europe indicate the company could be planning a “Classic Edition” of its N64 console, which was available from 1996-2003 and sold nearly 33 million units worldwide.

Trademark filings, of course, aren’t the best barometer of a company’s intentions. But a third entry in the Classic Edition family makes some sense. It was a wildly popular sytem in its day, like the NES and SNES, and served as the launching pad for some iconic games, including Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and GoldenEye 007.

That last title presents a hurdle, though. Considered by many as the best first person shooter ever made, it was the creation of developer Rare, in which Nintendo owned a majority stake. In 2002, though, Microsoft acquired Rare. Under the terms of the deal, Nintendo retained exclusive rights for most original properties and franchises featured in games developed by Rare, including Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong and Star Fox. Rare, though, retained rights to the characters it created independently, including the Perfect Dark, Conker and Banjo-Kazooie franchises.

GoldenEye‘s ownership is a bit fuzzier, as it was based on the James Bond series.

There’s certainly money in the Classic Edition line for Nintendo either way. The NES Classic sold 2.3 million units in five months, and could have easily sold twice that, given demand.

More importantly, though, it helps keep Nintendo front-and-center in people’s minds as they shop during the holidays. And if buyers can’t find a Classic Edition, there’s a chance they’ll grab either a Nintendo Switch or a game for that system instead.

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