BUYER BEWARE: Fake NES Classic Edition consoles are popping up on eBay

Beware: a knockoff version of the highly sought after NES Classic Edition has begun circulation on places like eBay. It looks very similar to the real thing.

Fake NES Classic Edition
This is a fake NES Classic Edition image, taken from an eBay listing. AliExpress/eBay

Here’s the real thing, for comparison:

NES classic edition
Small enough to fit in your palm! Nintendo

Pretty similar, right?

It could just be the difference in photography, but the colour of the knockoff seems to be slightly off. Users in the gaming forum NeoGAF started noticing the fakes recently. There’s at least one other telltale sign of this knockoff: the gamepad.

Here’s the knockoff gamepad:

Fake NES Classic Edition

Can you see it? Slightly raised areas just outside of the B and A buttons that definitely aren’t on the original NES gamepad (or the near-perfect re-creation of that gamepad that Nintendo made for the NES Classic Edition).

Of course, if you’re looking to buy one of these now-discontinued collector’s items on a site like eBay, it’s entirely possible that you aren’t acutely checking every detail of the hardware. Or maybe the re-seller intentionally takes photos that mask the fake console’s tells. Or maybe neither of you know!

Worst of all, NES Classic Edition consoles regularly sell for upwards of $US200 apiece (more than three times the original $US60 price tag) on eBay.

NES Classic Edition eBay
A snapshot of eBay’s many NES Classic Edition listings on July 10, 2017. eBay

Everyone loves the NES Classic Edition, and it’s easy to understand why: For $US60, you get 30 classic NES games (built into the console), a replica of the original NES gamepad, and the adorable little console itself. That Nintendo discontinued it soon after it debuted turned the console into an instant collector’s item — one that appeals to both longtime gamers and the many millions of people who grew up with Nintendo (and eventually grew out of Nintendo).

Unfortunately, Nintendo didn’t create enough of the NES Classic Edition to satisfy demand. Resultantly, the market for the console has been dominated by re-sellers and, now, knockoffs. A similar market exists for Nintendo’s main game console, the Switch, where retailers regularly turn overwhelming demand for the Switch into a way to offload junk. For example: Though the Switch itself costs $US300, retailers often only sell the console in a “bundle” with stuff that doesn’t sell — third-party peripherals, carrying cases, and other ephemera. In so many words, you’re forced to buy a bunch of stuff you normally wouldn’t buy so that you can buy one thing you do.

With the upcoming release of the Super NES Classic Edition later this year, Nintendo’s promising to do a better job of getting consoles to people who want them. Whether it will succeed remains to be seen.