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The Nintendo Switch is Scarce As Holidays Approach

August 27, 2017, 6:14 PM UTC

Nintendo’s hit Switch console is hard to find in the U.S. and Japan, in a repeat of Nintendo products of the recent past. Nintendo has been accused of engineering shortages to build hype in the past, but it says it’s doing the best it can.

According to the Wall Street Journal, fans in Nintendo’s home country have been lining up by the thousands for lottery-style events, with only a one-in-10 chance of actually being able to buy a switch. In the U.S., GameStop’s COO recently said that new Switch inventory usually sells out “in a matter of days,” and resellers on Amazon and eBay have marked the units up by 20% or more.

The supply issues may seem like flashbacks to last year, when Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition was even more elusive. But the Classic was essentially a novelty item with a limited run, and some speculated that scarcity and the accompanying excitement were Nintendo’s plan all along.

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The Switch is a different animal — it’s now Nintendo’s flagship console, and its success has reversed a dire situation following the flop of the Wii U. Nintendo has already said that Switch shortages are “definitely not intentional,” and simply a result of underestimating demand. Nintendo says it is working hard to ramp up production, with a target of 10 million units this fiscal year, but the Journal reports there are shortages of flash memory and batteries, and that the console’s detachable wireless controllers have proven tough to make.

There’s at least one other serious obstacle between Nintendo and a happy Christmas shopping season: According to the Journal, some Switch components are competing for production capacity with the upcoming iPhone 8.