You can buy a Nintendo 3DS at GameStop. You can buy one at Best Buy. Target. Wal-Mart. You can buy it from pretty much anywhere—except for the world's biggest online retailer.
For at least the past year, retail titan Amazon.com has not sold Nintendo hardware. There are Amazon listings for the DS and Wii and 3DS, but you can only purchase the hardware from third-party distributors. Amazon won't sell any of them firsthand.
Weird, right? Weirder still: nobody will explain why. Even Nintendo of America's president Reggie Fils-Aime wouldn't shed any light on this apparent rift.
"We don't talk about our specific business practices with individual retailers, and so you're not going to get any more information from me specific to Amazon or any of our different retail partners," he told me last week in an interview.
"What I can tell you is they are selling software, and [there] are resellers that are on the site selling hardware as well, but you're right: Amazon as a direct sale company currently does not sell Nintendo hardware."
Fils-Aime wouldn't say more than that. When I asked if there were any plans in the works for that to change, he said he couldn't talk about it.
I also asked Amazon for comment yesterday, but I haven't heard back.
This is not the first time Nintendo has been vague about their relationship with the retailer: last year, while I was writing for Wired, I asked the Mario makers why I couldn't buy a 3DS directly from Amazon. They sent over the following:
All Nintendo hardware, software and accessories are still for sale on Amazon.com, either through Amazon directly or through one of the site's featured partners. Amazon is a valued Nintendo partner that continues to offer a seamless, one-stop shopping experience for Nintendo products.
Amazon's response was even stranger. I called the retail chain a few times late last October. Eventually their PR folks told me to e-mail one specific person, so I did. She forwarded my e-mail to another PR rep.
I noticed today that Amazon.com is no longer directly selling new Nintendo 3DS systems - is there a reason for this? Does Amazon intend to start selling them again?
Amazon PR's response:
Thanks for reaching out. Although I am not able to share any more detail, at this time, Amazon Digital Video Game Downloads is not offering Playstation Network Online Game Codes and Points Cards.
Wait, what? I sent three more emails after this—"Hi, I'm actually asking about the Nintendo 3DS hardware system."—and called them a couple more times. No response. Weird and weirder.
While this could be related to an incident in July during which Amazon temporarily pulled the 3DS due to an inventory issue, that was resolved quickly. This doesn't seem to be related.
Now that the Wii U is available for pre-order—and unavailable on Amazon—this story has bubbled up again over the past few days. All sorts of rumors have been floating around, none of them verifiable. I'm still chasing several leads on this story, and I've reached out to Amazon again for comment.
If you know why Amazon might not be selling Nintendo hardware, please drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.