Nintendo: Forever Trapped in Zion

The digital age is calling. It’s naked, face-down, arse-up on the bed and asking for Nintendo to join it, but for some reason the Japanese Giant just doesn’t seem sure as to how to proceed. It’s experimented a couple of times before with the Wii and DS online stores, and had a better shot with the more recent WiiU and 3DS eShop, but it needs to do a few stretches, take a decent run-up and dive head first into ok this analogy is going somewhere bad.

A few days ago I was fiddling with my 3ds, and decided to look up some games for it. Zero Escape was probably on sale at this point, plus a few other things I wanted, but as I browsed I remembered that each of these games comes in cartridges. Small, fragile, easily lost and broken cartridges. Physical media is fine for a home console, dealing with very large games on discs that aren’t going to be moving very much, but I don’t like the risk of carrying the extra 3ds cartridges around.

So then I tried the eShop, figuring that I might be able to download some of the more interesting titles, and I can… for full retail price. Every 3ds game is set at £40, while their physical counterparts have sometimes dropped down to £20, new and sealed.

Defeated, I started researching flash carts.

I feel that Nintendo is shooting itself in the foot. I’m willing to pay for my games, but I’m being given the choice of a reasonably-priced game that comes in a cartridge, or an expensive game that I get to download to the extremely limited memory in my 3ds and WiiU.

Maybe I’m spoiled, Steam sales have definitely skewed my idea of what a decent price for a game is, but £40 is something I feel I should drop on a top of the line, HD graphics out the arse masterpiece like MGS:V, not a year-old portable Zelda.

I’m also a lot more used to security with my games. Nintendo doesn’t assign the downloaded games to accounts, it instead assigns them to consoles. So if you ever have a hardware failure you’re losing all the downloaded games that you paid for.

If you need any more proof that Nintendo doesn’t understand digital distribution: the size of a WiiU downloaded game can vary, but there are titles that take around 18GB. I’ll remind you now that the basic WiiU model comes with 8GB of storage, and the larger model has 32GB. The WiiU was never designed to handle downloadable titles, I don’t even understand why they’re trying to sell these titles online.

This will buy one game, yet paradoxically still fill your storage completely.
This will buy one game, yet paradoxically still fill your storage completely.

There is a lot of money available if Nintendo would just step its game up. There is money in laziness, that’s why few people wash their own cars. Give the public the ability to buy Nintendo games from the comfort of their own home and you’ll find a lot more sales even on big titles. Discounts on larger titles would also help, it’ll grab the impulse-buyers, the kinds of people that just can’t turn down a bargain.

This also helps them get over the initial hump of buying from an online store. Studies have shown that once you’ve bought one thing online, it’s a lot easier to buy again. Think of your first RP purchase in League of Legends, or your first game on Steam, it was a lot easier the second time wasn’t it?

But in case anyone from Nintendo is reading this, I’ve left the best for last. Everything you sell on your digital marketplace is pure, absolute profit. No manufacturing costs, no shipping costs, no retailers taking a cut. Maintain your servers and watch as the money is violently thrown at your face.

Nintendo isn’t stupid, you don’t get to become an enormous multi-billion dollar corporation spanning over half a century if you’re stupid. They have to see that digital distribution is the future, they have to see the benefits of it, but they’re staring at it, not entirely sure of what to do and in extreme danger of staining their pants.