Nintendo's Switch remains sold out everywhere as the pandemic stretches on — and there's no end in sight

AP/Koji Sasahara

It’s not just you: The Nintendo Switch continues to be sold out everywhere.

The wildly popular Nintendo game console has been sold out for months, largely due to a sustained surge in interest as stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic stretch on.

Analysts previously predicted the console would be back in stock by summer. But now, Nintendo says it doesn’t know when it will be able to catch up with demand.

“We cannot currently answer when the shortages will be resolved,” Nintendo president Shuntaro Furakawa said in a recent investor call. “Console production has mostly recovered,” he said, but Nintendo has been unable to get manufactured consoles onto store shelves fast enough.

“There is some amount of lag between when a product is manufactured and when it arrives on retailer shelves,” Furakawa said.

In the meantime, re-sellers are jacking up the price of the normally $US300 Nintendo Switch console.

Nintendo Switch (resellers on Amazon, July 30, 2020)AmazonNintendo Switch consoles in ‘Used – Like New’ condition being sold on Amazon for $US100 more than MSRP.

It’s nearly impossible to buy a Nintendo Switch without paying at least $US100 over the $US300 sticker price. It’s similarly difficult to find the handheld-only Nintendo Switch Lite.

But why? A confluence of factors.

When Nintendo launched “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” on March 20, it was fortuitously timed to the sudden closure of much of society as the coronavirus pandemic spread. Millions of people were forced indoors, including millions of children, and many turned to Nintendo’s blockbuster life simulation game on the Nintendo Switch for something to do.

Like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, the Nintendo Switch rapidly became scarce. “It’s huge. It’s a system seller,” Niko Partners senior analyst Daniel Ahmad told me in a phone interview in April.

He also pointed to the ongoing pandemic – “in-home gaming is surging, because what else do you do?” – and the fact that Nintendo admitted to Switch supply issues, which “led to people rushing out to buy one.”

Furakawa acknowledged the ongoing supply issues during the investor call, and apologised to fans.

“We would like to express our apologies for the inconvenience experienced by many consumers due to a shortage of Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite,” he said. “There have been continued on-and-off shortages throughout markets worldwide, specifically since the release of ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ (in March) through today.”

Nintendo’s Switch console was already popular before the coronavirus pandemic, with over 55 million sold, but Nintendo was handily keeping up with demand. Up until March, you could walk into most of the retailers mentioned above and walk out with a Nintendo Switch.

Between the huge launch of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” on March 20, and increased demand for in-home entertainment due to the pandemic, the Switch became increasingly hard to find.

Worse: Supplies of the system were already hindered by the shutdown of manufacturing in China during February, when “there were no consoles produced,” Ahmad said. About 90% of Nintendo’s Switch consoles made for the US come from China, he said.

As for when things will return to normal, and the Nintendo Switch will become readily available again at its standard retail price? Not even Nintendo knows.

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