Posted on February 19 2015 by Nathanial Rumphol-Janc
Update: According to Satoru Iwata during and investors Q and A meeting, shipments of the New Nintendo 3DS XL and amiibo are indeed being affected by the strike happening on the West Coast, although software is not affected since it is light enough that it is flown in.
For those unaware, currently the west coast of the United States is enduring a major labor strike at its ports. What this means is that trade good supplies slow to a crawl, as a labor strike causes shipments to sit idle, waiting for something to happen. This has been going on for months, where the ports were operating at 30% capacity – meaning roughly 70% of the staff were on strike. This past weekend, 100% of the staff went on strike, as the folks who own and run the harbor ports and shipping refused to pay holiday wages for working through Presidents’ Day. It’s unclear if the strike is still at 100% capacity, but the strike itself is ongoing with no end foreseeable in sight.
We naturally do not know what harbors and/or ports Nintendo’s shipments come from, but most products made in Asia (China specifically, but most Asian countries) come through the West Coast ports, as it is the shortest shipping route to the United states. Once it gets here, it is generally hauled to a warehouse and split up into air and ground shipments across the country. The problem here is that no one is unloading these shipments and bringing them to the warehouses. The ports are jam packed, and some shipping boats are just sitting in the ocean, waiting.
Assuming Nintendo’s shipments come through the West Coast, this potentially explains the supply issues we’ve been seeing for the past few months. Were you upset at Nintendo for making the Majora’s Mask New Nintendo 3DS XL hard to get? It might not have actually been their fault at all. They might have thousands of them just sitting on a ship in the ocean. Hate how long it takes for amiibo to get resupplied? Again, they might just be sitting around, waiting for the strike to end. On one hand, as a fellow consumer, you just want these employees to get back to work. On the other hand, we should also want to make sure they are being treated fairly.
I don’t know enough behind the reasons for the strike to really give any useful insight, and it should be noted that the connection of the supply issues to the west coast strike is just educated guessing, initially suggested by Kotaku. We have no real evidence, because we don’t work at Nintendo and know where their shipments go – but it makes logical sense that they use the same route the rest of the world does that makes products in Asia. Still, it’s an interesting note. Just don’t be shocked if those consoles or even Limited Edition Majora’s Mask 3D units start popping up at stores this summer.