Nintendo Making Peripherals Impossible To Buy Used

from the sneaky,-sneaky,-sneaky dept

An anonymous reader points us to some news concerning the latest skirmish in the battle over used goods in the video game industry. As we've noted, various execs have been freaking out over secondhand sales, despite tons of economic evidence that a robust secondhand market increases the value of the original offerings. In this case, it appears that Nintendo is selling a "Wii Speak" microphone that can be used with certain games, but in order to use it, you need to download the "Wii Speak Channel" which can only be downloaded with a code supplied with the Wii Speak (Update: as noted in the comments, this description isn't quite accurate. You can still use the Wii Speak in the game, but the Wii Channel is needed to use it outside of the game). And here's the sneaky part: that code can only be used once. Effectively, it's impossible to resell the Wii Speak, because you can't use it unless it's been purchased new. This is pretty dumb, as it certainly decreases the value of the device, and will make plenty of folks think twice before committing to it, knowing that it can't be resold.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    drew, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:32am

    what if you own 2 wii's
    hell what if you only own 1 and it breaks can you reinstall it to the refurb that they send

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Someone will hack it.

     

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    C, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:36am

    In this case, it appears that Nintendo is selling a "Wii Speak" microphone that can be used with certain games, but in order to use it, you need to download the "Wii Speak Channel" which can only be downloaded with a code supplied with the Wii Speak.

    This is false. The Wii Speak channel is additional functionality above and beyond chatting in games. A used Wii Speak will let you chat in Animal Crossing just fine; you just won't be able to gather your friends in the Wii Speak channel to chat outside of a game.

     

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      Monarch, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 10:25am

      Re:

      So if you or your friends buys a used WiiSpeak, they will be able to chat within the game, but the additional functionality of the WiiSpeak Channel is no longer available as additional content.

      So why have the added functionality if not all people could use it? It becomes useless additional functionality.

       

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    Dosquatch, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:38am

    per console

    TFA says it appears the mic will still work within games that support voice chat, and the "speak channel" is needed for chat outside of the games, but stil...

    And, again, the original purchaser could also be collateral damage if, say, the consumer's console were to go belly up. You can't re-use the original code, Nintendo reps say they will not reissue codes once they are used, not even if they are "lost" or "stolen", and the code is not available through any other means. So if you ever have to replace your console, you better replace your periphial as well.

     

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    What If, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:40am

    What if...

    To answer your question about what if you own two... or one breaks...

    For the break, they MIGHT reset your code. For the two... the answer is obvious.... you buy TWO of them! See... they are increasing their profits already!



    Bend Over and Cough!

     

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      MadJo, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:17pm

      Re: What if...

      Hmm I thought they made it pretty much clear that they won't reset the code, for whatever reason. Though perhaps a class-action could certainly have a certain effect on that. :)

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:47am

    When it became obvious that DRM had all but killed PC games I started looking into consoles. OOPS! They just shot themselves in the ass. I'm done with ALL video games unless in an arcade and their I understand I pay per play.

    FUCK THE WHOLE DAMN VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY!

    NOT 1 CENT!

     

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      josh, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 11:28am

      Re:

      seriously though, i've said F the video game industry. i stopped buying consoles/games at PS2 because of the cost and over done games. i play the ps2 less and things have been great. i started reading more for work (software developer) and slowly found myself reading for pleasure. i've found reading to be more entertaining relaxing and most importantly cheaper.

       

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        MadJo, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

        Re: Re:

        And more on topic. You can resell your books, at least if they are of the dead-tree variaty.

        If those books happen to be ebooks, we're right back at DRM or an unability to resell it. :)

         

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      Jablonski, Jun 6th, 2009 @ 11:35pm

      Re:

      While I share your frustration with this particular instance of DRM, it's probably worth pointing out that your comment comes across as a pretty obvious bluff. So you're never going to play another videogame again outside of an arcade? Really? Do you actually expect people who read your comment to believe you? In a sense, you're shooting yourself in the foot here; when you bluff in such an obvious way like that, it's practically begging people to ignore whatever else of value you might have to say.

       

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:47am

    Wow

    Nintendo, I am disappointed in you guys. You are usually nicer than this. Shame on you.

     

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    James, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:54am

    Simple Fix

    DON'T BUY IT!!

    Vote w/your $$ they'll get the message when they have a warehouse full of this crap, same goes for EA and its DRM-crippled list of games.

     

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    duane (profile), Nov 17th, 2008 @ 8:58am

    Only one problem

    I generally agree with the importance of the secondhand market, but asserting that these actions "will make plenty of folks think twice before committing to it, knowing that it can't be resold" is not accurate.

    Most people could give a rat's ass about the resell possibilities of accessories. Most people won't even think about it and when they do find out, if they do find out, they'll just shrug their shoulders, throw it away, and move on.

    We're being trained to expect this, so unless it is a particularly egregious instance of rapaciousness, or someone raises a whole lot of stink, this won't even make a blip.

    Remember, you boil the frog by raising the temperature slowly.

     

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    hegemon13, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:00am

    Doesn't matter

    This will lead to one of two outcomes. Either there will be enough fan backlash that Nintendo will relent and make the WiiSpeak channel free, or, more likely, fans will just ignore the WiiSpeak channel, making it a worthless and undesirable feature. A chat channel depends on having lots of users. It seems that Nintendo is already crippling the channel before it has a chance to take off. Simply having to enter the code is a pain and barrier to entry that a lot of people won't bother with. And how many people will toss the packaging before the realize that they're tossing the code with it.

    Stupid, Nintendo, really stupid, especially for a company who has been trying to build an image of mass appeal and user-friendliness.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:12am

    If your system does go belly-up, the code is still tied to your account. If you can redownload your games, this will be the same thing, and I'm sure they (like MS and Sony) have a system in place to handle that. At least.. I hope so.

     

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      ehrichweiss, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:39am

      Re:

      Yeah, Nintendo are pretty good about allowing you to move your stuff to replacement consoles. Somehow our Wii got lost on the way to the warranty center and they replaced our console and moved all of our Wii-Ware games to the new account. I wish they'd allow it to be resold but it won't be long before a hack is available. They already have it so that you can boot backup games without a modchip.

       

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    Grab, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:14am

    Trade in value

    I honestly don't believe the lack of the ability to resell a $30 accessory would be a major 'gotchya' Given that the trade in value at a game store would likely be in the $5-$8 dollar range I just do not see that as a purchasing factor. I agree that the lock in is unnecessary and places an unnecessary barrier to usability.

     

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    mslade, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:26am

    What second hand market?

    Most second hand markets I'm aware of in the console market are the kind where you sell your accessories/games back at 10% of the original cost, so they can be sold to new customers for 95% of the original cost. Beautiful little margin isn't it? Well, not for the end-consumer, but great for the unnecessary middle-men (GameStop, etc).

    I would never / will never buy a console game or accessory with resale value in mind because I acknowledge that they become instantly worthless as soon as I unwrap them. Getting $5 back for my game isn't worth the gas money to go to the store.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 10:10am

      Re: What second hand market?

      The secondary market need not flow through the retailers. Allow me to introduce you to craigslist...

       

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      nasch, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 7:35pm

      Re: What second hand market?

      I think you're making stuff up. You're saying a $50 item would be bought back for $2.50, and resold for $47.50. Who in the world would pay 95% for used merchandise? I think 50-60% is more the range that I've seen, though I have no idea what the shops buy for.

       

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    dennis, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:38am

    i have owned every gaming system since inception and have moved on from each too. so goodby Wii. still only purchased one game.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:40am

    It is all about principle. More people need to start NOT forgiving these companies for their efforts to make people pay more for less.

    Thank you Techdirt, This information is key for consumers to get informed on the low-down dirty tricks of so many tech companies.

    NOT 1 cent more!

     

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    Twinrova, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:48am

    Okay, someone's confused about the Wii.

    This isn't as shocking as you make it out to be, nor is it a "hinder" to second-hand sales. The mic will still work in games, but it won't work for the Wii Speak channel for very good reason: All downloads are assigned the Wii number to prevent piracy.

    This is no different than the WiiWare or Virtual games downloads saved to an SD card. If your console goes out, all your previous downloads are lost and must be repurchased.

    EVERYTHING related to online content through the Wii is attached to your console number. It matters not if it's a peripheral using a Wii channel or game.

    If you save games to an external memory source, you're greeted with a message "You can not install this download to another Wii console".

    So, don't think this is a step in preventing second hand sales of a product, when in fact, it's just the way Nintendo has restricted transferring software to other consoles.

     

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    RD, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 9:58am

    Are you kidding?

    Screw Nintendo, and EA for that matter. I just got a 360 system and I would never have bothered getting it if I couldnt get used stuff. Everything I bought was used, the system, games, etc. I paid about half or less for the lot, and am very happy with it. Now, I want some new games, like Force Unleashed and Vegas 2, so because I was able to buy used, I will be buying MORE games. Wake up greedy corporations, you dont get to control every aspect of every sale.

     

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    PantsBandit, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 10:00am

    It seems that companies are going out of their way to create almost a new type of second hand markets. Markets for codes. As many have already mentioned, not everyone is going to use the code supplied with the device, and so the code will eventually find its way on ebay or some similar medium. People will purchase their device and then pick up a fresh code from someone else.
    This is currently happening with games like Gears of War 2. A code is included for a 5 map pack in the hopes that it would get people to purchase the game new, but all this has done is create a huge market of people selling the codes.
    It almost seems like by having the codes they are doing resellers a favor. By selling the code and device/game separately, people seem to be making back more money than they would had they just sold a codeless item.

     

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    Yakko Warner, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 10:08am

    Increasingly common

    Witness:

    Rock Band 2 -- 100 tracks come with the game, but 20 of them are only available after registering the code that comes with the game with Harmonix and getting a download code emailed to you. Single use only.

    Gears of War 2 -- extra map pack, downloaded via single-use code that comes with the game.

    Fable 2 Limited Edition -- single-use code used to download a file that unlocks content already included on the disc. (The kicker for this was, due to a manufacturing screw-up, they ended up giving away the codes for essentially nothing, meaning non-Limited Edition purchasers could get a code as well [and since there was no difference between "standard" and "limited edition" game discs, the unlock code did work on those, too].)

    This, to me, is going the wrong way. If they want to curtail second-hand sales, they should be adding value such that people won't want to sell the game back. Criterion has been trying this with Burnout Paradise -- they've been periodically releasing updates for free for their game (they've added new game modes, added motorcycles to their previously car-only game, and they've been promising new locations for a while).

    Instead, they're trying to make the used product less valuable by locking up features behind controlled codes.

     

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    Sea Man, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 11:02am

    Arrggh maties! What are these problems ye be speaking of? I don't have 'em. Arggh.

     

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    Thrillho, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    I don't get it...

    This is a channel, it has nothing to do with using the mic in game, which is the primary function of it. This, to me, is equivalent to a preorder item at a store. I don't get why people are crying DRM over a free wii channel. Should everyone who purchased their wii after June 2007 complain that in order to get the opera channel, they had to pay $5, when early adopters got it for free?

     

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    Jesse, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:06pm

    How dubious

     

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    Canadius, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 12:54pm

    Nice Reporting

    Guess this reporter needs to check his facts before posting stories.

    Get over it guys, so you can't use a single Wii channel if it's bought second hand. Besides, selling any peripheral is worth what? Five bucks maybe? Maybe instead of complaining that you can't talk to your friends in the Wii Channel, I've heard they have this new technology. You pick up a receiver, dial a specific set of numbers and you can be connected to whomever you please! And sources say you can sell that peripheral and it can be used by the second hand buyer.

    Gamers are notorious crybabies. Maybe we could try to change that stereotype.

    NOTE: Everyone who's ever pirated a song, movie or videogane can be thanked for this.

     

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      MadJo, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:15pm

      Re: Nice Reporting

      Indeed, you can't buy a wii channel second hand, but you can still buy them on a second hand machine!

      Nice way of jumping to piracy here. This has nothing to do with piracy. Sellers of second hand goods aren't pirates.

       

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    MadJo, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:13pm

    Just to make a point (and probably preaching to the choir)

    If GM started to suddenly make it impossible to resell their cars, I doubt that would go over well with car buyers. My first car was a second hand, because I couldn't pay for a brand new car. The car market would most likely collapse (though it would mean less traffic on the road), the economy would go down even further, because suddenly all those second-hand car dealers would go bust.

    Same would be true for house ware like furniture, TVs, refridgerators and microwaves.
    I'm sure a lot of student houses have in a certain degree second hand kitchenware and other gear.
    Imagine students suddenly have to pay full price for their furniture.
    I doubt many people would be able to pay AND tuition AND furniture. So their goes your knowledge economy.

    Now, of course, just a gaming peripheral isn't the end of the world, and there are bigger issues at stake. But if this is the way businesses want to do their business, we're in for a very rocky time.

    Nintendo, the secondhand market is not destroying your business. Most stores sell their secondhand stuff at almost the same price as the new stuff. So if you're not selling all that well (Which I highly doubt, eyeing the figures of last month alone), I don't think the second hand market is going very well either.
    You only hurt your customers by doing this, and are in fact losing sales over this. (I for one am not buying a Wii microphone for my Wii, just because of this matter, and will think twice, if you keep it up, whether or not I even want any of your machines and games in my house again. And I love my DSlite.)

     

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    Anonymous Coward #42, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 1:17pm

    You know, I look at it this way. I think we've got bigger concerns than the peripherals. All the next-gen consoles rely fairly heavily on their respective gaming networks. Old standalone consoles and their games can be played to this day. What about new-generation consoles and games that require "the network" to be played? What happens when Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo pull the plug on their "legacy" console networks? They probably just killed off a good share of the playability of those games.

    And sure, lots of games only require a network connection for online gameplay, which is obvious, but if the game is ONLY online-playable, and they pull the plug, say goodbye to your precious game. It might be pretty tough, if not impossible, to find a way to play those games a decade or two from now. Of course that's assuming the world even lasts that long.....

    It's a new world we live in, my friends. Nothing lasts near as long as it used to anymore. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it will all be gone soon.

     

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    Erik, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:48pm

    Do these companies even think about the ramifications of their decrees? I know I'd probably not buy a product that I was unable to sell. What if I decide I just don't like it? I'm stuck. They are pursuing short term profits at the expense of the long tail and that's just bad business. But I agree, someone will hack it.

     

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    Canadius, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Madjo

    Sellers of second hand goods aren't pirates. Yes and no. Do you kick back an appropriate amount to Nintendo when you sell that old console? Didn't think so. I'm not slamming the idea of second hand stuff. I buy and sell second hand stuff all the time. All I'm saying is that it is this practice which has led some companies (not just Nintendo) to moving in this direction.

    'Piracy' is such a dirty word. Just call yourself a 'Peripheral Liberator'. You Yanks love 'liberating' things right? lol

     

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      huh, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 5:07pm

      Re: Re: Madjo

      "Do you kick back an appropriate amount to Nintendo when you sell that old console? "

      The appropriate amount would be ZERO. However, it's not so much that they care about the 2nd hand market...

      The problem is that they have taken security measures affecting first sales (an area they care about) and they are simply indifferent to how it affects anyone else.

       

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      MadJo (profile), Nov 18th, 2008 @ 1:56am

      Re: Re: Madjo

      Do you often pay twice for the same device? :)
      No of course I do not sent a kick back to Nintendo if I resell my console. It's MY device (There was no EULA stating that I was merely licensed to use the device, though it might come to that later on if companies are really persistent in this trend.), and there is the first sale doctrine.

      btw, I'm not a Yank :P nor a Canuck. I'm Dutch.

       

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    Tristan Young, Nov 17th, 2008 @ 7:51pm

    Nintendo Making Peripherals Impossible To Buy Used

    It's about time Nintendo started screwing with its customers. Sony and Microsoft have been screwing us for years over various aspects of their consoles.

     

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    Vine Young, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 6:38am

    Lalalalalalalala hahahah someone will hack it

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 6:39am

    efu

     

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    deven, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 8:18am

    wii speak

    that is pretty stupid, i guess that nintendo is trying to make sure that if u want one, that you buy it new so they get the profits, and not used from some for kid on ebay.

     

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    emily hamann, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 8:19am

    that's wierd!!!

     

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    me, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 8:23am

    da stupid wii thing

    i would just hack the code and reset it.

     

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    no name, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 8:23am

    what if u already have a wii?? it's pretty boring.....

     

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    uhhh, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 8:25am

    idk

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 8:28am

    what if you decided to sell your wii with the wii speak

     

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