I wave my hands back and forth insistently. “No, no. We’re not hacking into my guidance counselor’s house.”
“Technically,” Beta says, “she’s already been hacked. We’d just be taking advantage of said hack.”
“No hacking. There’s got to be a plan B.” I glance at my laptop instinctively, looking in vain for plan B. Instead, there’s just porn. So much porn. I try to kill Opera, but that merely triggers a sound bite of a woman moaning. I start closing tabs manually, one after another after another. The selection of frolicking couples is rich and varied, ranging from college cowgirls to grinding grannies—but it’s the last tab that really catches my attention. It’s got a gaming blog loaded. “The NES Classic Conspiracy?” I ask Ernie, reading the title aloud.
He rolls onto his side, a flurry of cookie crumbs avalanching down his mountainous belly. “Yeah, you know.”
“That there’s no such thing? That Nintendo only made it up to bolster sales of the Switch?”
“I’ve heard this one,” Beta says, nodding.
Where is this possibly going? “What are you talking about?”
Ernie struggles into a sitting position. “The NES Classic doesn’t and hasn’t ever existed. It was all a viral marketing gimmick started by Nintendo to sell more Switches.”
“Have you seen Breath of the Wild? The only gimmick Nintendo needed to sell more Switches was Zelda, and they totally did so.”
“Because of the NES Classic urban myth,” Beta says.
“Think about it, jungle boy,” Ernie continues. “Have you or anyone you know ever seen an NES Classic in real life? On a store shelf? In someone’s living room?”
“Exactly! No one seems to have one, yet all these alleged gamer types are on social media posting pics of the NES Classics they supposedly managed to buy just before it sold out. They manage to hold onto their NES Classic just long enough to take a pic and post it on Twitter. Then they sell their Classic on eBay, immediately erasing all purchasing history and conveniently losing any and all receipts that might prove they’d actually bought a Classic in the first place.” Ernie pretends to wipe his butt with his finger, holds the finger up for me to sniff. “Does it smell like shit to you yet?”
“Nobody has an NES Classic,” I say, “because Nintendo underestimated demand. The fanboys and fangirls all ran out and bought one at launch. Everyone else grabbed the rest to resell on eBay for five times the price. It’s called dickotomy.”
“Don’t you mean dichotomy?”
“Nope. Dickotomy, with a k.”
“You’re not getting it, little dude,” Beta says. “The NES Classic isn’t an actual product that was ever sold in stores or online. It’s a marketing campaign. Nintendo paid off hundreds of its street team members to post photos of a mock-up device. No one actually owns an NES Classic.”
“That’s ridiculous. If my laptop wasn’t swimming in porn, I could totally go on Amazon right now and buy an NES Classic.”
“But will you?”
“Because two-hundred dollars for thirty games, no Contra or Dracula’s Curse, only one Mega Man game, and a three-foot-long controller cable is kind of…stupid.”
“Exactly. No one would ever pay for an overpriced, feature-limited novelty console when they can just as easily do the Virtual Console thing, or throw fceux and some ROMs onto a half-decent laptop with an Xbox controller attached to it—and so no one will ever actually try to buy an NES Classic, nor will they ever find out that it is, in fact, a magic trick. If they do try, guess what? Sold out. Unavailable. On back order. In the meantime, for a hundred bucks more, you can get a Switch, which, in addition to the forthcoming slew of first and third-party titles, also includes the Virtual Console. Anyone in their right mind will go with a Switch, and soon after will forget that the NES Classic ever failed to exist at all. It’s sideways marketing 101.”
“Perfect crime,” Ernie says.
“Well, sure, if you ignore the fact that with all the billions of people on the Internet, someone at some point would eventually notice…” I rub my face with my hands. “Okay, you know what? Let’s just hack Thrillkill’s server and be done with it.”
Ernie nods at Beta. “Reverse psychol—I mean, sideways marketing.”
“Sideways marketing,” Beta agrees.