Nintendo Is Beginning To Look Like The Disney Of The Video Game Industry
from the into-the-vault dept
Techdirt, and myself specifically, have had an awful lot to say about Nintendo. To be fair to me, not every post I write about the company is negative. But to be fair to anyone with a pair of eyeballs, much of it certainly has been negative. I find that the company prioritizes control of every last ounce of its IP over its own customers and fans, that the company behaves in a manner so aloof as to be almost comical, and that the company seems perfectly willing to break the entire concept of the American copyright system incentives by combatting all forms of “piracy” or use of its IP while also being perfectly willing to silo that IP in places where the public simply cannot legitimately access it.
Does that sound like anyone else to you? Because it sounds like Disney to me. And, frankly, Nintendo’s latest move sounds like the gaming industry equivalent to precisely what Disney has historically done with its “vaulting” of certain movies for periods of time. In this case, Nintendo has shut down the 3DS and Wii U stores, all while saying that it doesn’t currently plan to make those classic games available elsewhere.
– As of May 23, 2022, it will no longer be possible to use a credit card to add funds to an account in Nintendo eShop on Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.
– As of August 29, 2022, it will no longer be possible to use a Nintendo eShop Card to add funds to an account in Nintendo eShop on Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. However, it will still be possible to redeem download codes until late March 2023.
To be fair and clear, owners of a Wii U and 3DS will still be able to redownload purchased games and engage in online play after those dates. For how long? Well, according to Nintendo, for “the foreseeable future.” Which… yeah. Part of the problem here, as Kotaku notes, is that the 3DS and Wii U were also places where gamers could actually purchase and own classic Nintendo titles. There really isn’t an equivalent to that once those stores are shut down as the newer consoles rely on subscriptions for gamers to play those classic games. No game purchases, just access via the subscription. So with this ownership option going away, will Nintendo replace it somewhere else? Nope!
Across our Nintendo Switch Online membership plans, over 130 classic games are currently available in growing libraries for various legacy systems. The games are often enhanced with new features such as online play.
We think this is an effective way to make classic content easily available to a broad range of players. Within these libraries, new and longtime players can not only find games they remember or have heard about, but other fun games they might not have thought to seek out otherwise.
We currently have no plans to offer classic content in other ways.
And so, there you have it. This reads much like a Disney message. You can have the content you want only in the way we want you to have it, under the subscription model we prefer, and only at times we make it available to you. Oh, and we can change all that up at any time because, once again, you’re not actually buying anything, you’re just subscribing to a service.
Oh, and one more thing you may be thinking if you’ve been following along with my posts about video game preservation needing some attention. You may be remembering that Nintendo had a section on its site that specifically talked about game preservation. Well, don’t go looking now, because it’s gone.
Especially wild, then, is the fact that not long after publishing this, Nintendo wiped that particular section of the Q&A from its site. Go and check it now and the “Doesn’t Nintendo have an obligation to preserve its classic games by continually making them available for purchase?” part is gone.
All the while, of course, the company will continue to punish fans by going after ROM sites, fan-made creations and recreations, YouTube channels featuring classic Nintendo music, and all the rest. If Nintendo isn’t the Disney of the gaming industry, it’s as close as we’re likely to get.
Filed Under: 3ds, locking up, stores, vault, wiiu
Companies: disney, nintendo
Comments on “Nintendo Is Beginning To Look Like The Disney Of The Video Game Industry”
Nintendo = Disney? Damn straight!
Nintendo themselves have made this argument since the late 90’s (if I’m not mistaken). All the telltale signs are there:
-critically acclaimed and easily accessible quality of content (even if the content itself isn’t always available)
-draconian enforcement of their IP when they have legally legitimate claims
There are key differences, though. Here they are:
-Nintendo isn’t buying up all the IP they can like Disney is. In that respect Microsoft is the Disney of the gaming industry.
-Disney would actually know how to recoil from a bad PR move from their aggressive IP stance, such as when they charged a licensing fee to a School District when they showed The Lion King. Nintendo doesn’t know the meaning of "bad PR", because the only way Nintendo would actually get punished is if they release a commercial failure of a system like the Virtual Boy or the Wii U.
So you’re right that Nintendo is the Disney of Video Games. I’m just surprised it took you, Timothy Geitner, this long to make a post realizing it. ????
Re: Nintendo = Disney? Damn straight!
Derp, it’s Timothy Geigner. I’m a moron.
Re: Re: Nintendo = Disney? Damn straight!
Say what you will about Nintendo’s franchises never evolving and Nintendo’s draconian approach to copyright and shit, but at least it’s not trying to make people feel like they never have to leave Neverland (or the Mushroom Kingdom, in Nintendo’s case) by way of building a planned community.
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I mean I won’t deny there’s a lot of repetition in series like New Super Mario Bros., Super Smash Bros., and Mario Kart, but the most recent entries in the core Mario and Zelda franchises are a pretty big departure from earlier installments. And the Kirby series has really never stopped experimenting with weird offshoots.
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It’s interesting that the upcoming Kirby game is the first Kirby game in 3D, four full generations after Mario first did it in Mario 64. Strange it took Nintendo three decades!
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Still can’t play as the title character in a Zelda game, though. Now there’s an evolution I’d like to see.
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The Wand of Gamelon and Zelda’s Adventure say hello (and Cadence of Hyrule, given its full title).
If Nintendo tried to expand the copyright extension, then I think they would truly be the Disney of video gaming. It’s likely the one thing left keeping them away from truly being such a thing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to do such an awful thing.
They might try it in Japan, but not in the United States. Even Disney doesn’t seem to have the testicular fortitude to fight for another copyright term extension, and Steamboat Willie falls into the public domain in…
…682 days as of the time of this post.
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Japan already passed a copyright term extension recently that extended their copyright terms from life+50 to life+70.
As for Nintendo, their first product is so old that it’s already in the public domain: Hanafuda Playing Cards.
Re: Copyright Expanding?
Renting games is illegal in Japan because of Nintendo.
They didn’t like the idea of people paying money to borrow a game from a store for a few days instead of actually paying full price for the game.
Re: Re: Copyright Expanding?
No, the reason was that Japanese people were pirating rented games. That being said, banning the renting of games was over the line.
Re: Copyright Expanding?
"If Nintendo tried to expand the copyright extension, then I think they would truly be the Disney of video gaming."
Although Nintendo have been abusing copyright law about as much as any other of the gatekeeper corporations they reserve their more draconian measures mainly for Trademark abuse.
I’d be less leery of copyright extension and more leery about them extending trademark provisions somehow.
When companies do things that is expected of them… they usually don’t make the news. When companies fuck up… they make the news.
And I agree here, Nintendo has a lot going for it, they don’t release rushed, bugged games that need multiple fixes to make it even playable, much less in a state that is expected of them. They don’t usually engage in microtransactions (Paid DLC like in Smash Ultimate is different, imo from a microtransaction) or god forbit, loot boxes. ie. you pay for actual content.
They’ve been innovative in the hardware dept. too, even if some of those hardware was way before it’s time (Looking at you Virtual Boy).
but… it’s licensing and it’s treatment towards it’s fanbase is something that does leave somethng to be desired.
It also helps that unlike the other two console competitors Nintendo is almost strictly focused on gaming, so their business interested aren’t stretched out in the same way Mircosoft and Sony are. And believe me, Ninty’s rap sheet doesn’t even come close to comparing to the other two.
I honestly have to wonder how much of Nintendo’s strict policies with the way they handle their trademarks and copyrights can be traced back to having to deal with both the Universal lawsuit and the breakdown of their partnership with Sony all those decades ago. (Strong rumors in the latter case the Sony was trying to rip off Nintendo by smuggling the rights to Nintendo’s IPs into their own libraries with some form of legal trickery.) Best explanation for the "lapdog aggressively guards squeaky toy" mentality I can realistically envision.
All paid DLC is still a microtransaction; whether you can live with paying for full-on content like the extra fighters/stages/music in Smash Ultimate is a personal matter.
Some Pokemon fans would like a word with you.
All of those paid for Mii costumes / golden horse armor would beg to differ….
Don’t forget the gatcha mobile games. (Wanna get your relationships scores up in Animal Crossing? Better pay up for those leaf tickets! We also have other currencies you can buy too…)
I’m not sure that using the Virtual Boy from 1995’s VR craze is a good example of innovative hardware design….. The thing was a commercial flop, had less than 25 games made for it worldwide, and required a stand to use it due to it’s weight. (Despite being designed to be worn on the head.)
Nintendo is better known for their hardware gimmicks rather than innovation. Touch screens, motion controls, etc. were nothing new when Nintendo started using them. Nintendo simply popularized them. About the closest thing to innovation that Nintendo has done recently is the same trick they did back in the 1980’s: Release a powerful (for the time) portable games console. Back then it was the GameBoy, today it’s the Switch. It’s honestly good to see Nintendo return to form.
Agreed. Their behavior is atrocious.
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Fanbase nothing, Nintendo also treats whoever wants to promote their games like trash too.
And I’m not even talking about streamers and their offshoots, too.
Oh, and if that one book about the console wars was right, Nintendo also once had the entire supply line locked down back in the 80s. For bloody SNESes.
I’m fairly certain that their EULA, as with many others of this kind, make it clear that you are granted a "license" for access to these games and not "ownership".
When you purchase media digitally, what you are paying for is not a product, but a service. If you actually want to ensure that you own your media, you either get physical or you’ll get what’s coming to you.
Then Nintendo and anyone who ever "licenses" Nintendo games should be legally prohibited from using the terms "buy", "purchase", and "own" on online shopping buttons. Playing with customers’ expectations is classic anti-consumer behavior.
The "you’ll get what’s coming for you" attitude perpetuates the poor market practices that large software and game companies wield to prevent their earnest customers from owning what they pay for. When software and game companies abandon sales of physical copies eventually, you had better change your tune of customer-blaming.
Re: you either get physical or you'll get what's coming to you.
They won’t wipe games you’ve already downloaded. The "download games I’ve already purchased" endpoint is staying up fttb. It’s the ability to buy new stuff on the store that is going soon.
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Damn… definitely assuming that can happen at any rate it’s quite terrible plan, yet from what I comprehend here all that caused it was a document being sent without an unequivocal expansion determined? Amazing…
Man, I really love my 3DS. Are they pulling all game cards out of the stores, or are they just not producing them anymore?
Either way I’m gonna miss my 3DS when Nintendo finally decides to stop continuing that service.
From what I understand, the online store won’t function, meaning you won’t be able to buy 3DS games online, but physical 3DS games should still work (if I’m not mistaken; atone please correct me if I’m wrong!).
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*anyone please correct me if I’m wrong!)
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The only way that would happen is if the game required an update that required a separate purchase. Fire Emblem: Fates for the 3DS, specifically the Revelation end game story line, is a candidate here. The game was mostly sold as a physical cart. (Complete with Pokemon style one for the price of three scheming.) But to get the other two storylines needed to beat the game, you need the eShop’s DLC. (Indeed, the true ending to the game is DLC only, assuming you don’t have one of the rare special edition launch day copies.)
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years did the same thing on the Wii. (Although it was digital only, and there was a full physical version on another system: the PSP.) Another example would be Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water on the WiiU. The download is effectively a free to play demo, with the majority of the content as a DLC purchase. (This game was also digital only in the US, on a region locked system where DLCs from other regions cannot be used interchangeably.)
Another way could be if the game was broken on release and needed an update that you haven’t already downloaded to avoid the crash. Pokemon X&Y is an example here. (It’s initial production run was bugged to the point that saving in the game’s hub area would break the game. Later production runs had the update that fixed it baked into the physical card.)
It also depends on your definition of "won’t function." Some games had DLCs paid or otherwise that allowed for re-balancing of the gameplay. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a good example here. As it had the Outer Worlds DLCs that allowed the player to repeatedly grind for EXP and Money indefinitely. (Effectively making an Easy Mode, or helping out players that got stuck with an infusion of resources.) The 3rd Dragon, and SMT games also provided this to a lesser extent.
Another example would be RPG Maker FES. As it requires DLC for most of the assets. (It is a physical game, but the base game has a pitifully low number of assets to use built in.) Also, the games you make with it cannot be played by others without the Player application which is a (free) eShop download. (This alone will make this "game" completely worthless after the eShop shutdown.)
For the most part, most physical copies of games should continue working despite the eShop shut down. But as you can tell from the above, this shutdown will have a much bigger impact on players than the shutdown of the DSi and Wii eShops did.
No, there’s no recall. The stores already paid for those games; Nintendo’s not going to buy them back. Anywhere that’s still got 3DS games for sale is still going to have them until they sell or discard them. And there will continue to be a secondhand market.
The market has already spoken
You say that Nintendo are being meanies by not providing their old games to play.
Both the Wii and Wii U attempted to sell the virtual console to users. The Wii U in particular died on it’s arse. Nintendo tried twice to legally provide this service and in neither case was it financially viable.
All of the people upset about this want free games. When the product was there you weren’t interested in paying for it.
You’re asking Nintendo to piss money away on something they’ve already tried twice. Try explaining that to the shareholders.
Re: The market has already spoken
The Wii Virtual Console was mostly super ancient NES era titles. SNES was an upgrade that came at the end of the service’s life, and Gameboy was a no-show. Most of the titles on the service were from Nintendo’s competitors. (NEC PCEngine, Sega Genesis, Commodore, etc.) Not exactly the best line up if you’re trying to promote your shiny new old stock back catalog service. (Although Pulseman, an early Game Freak game previously only released in Japan, was a nice addition.)
The Wii U was a commercial failure in all aspects. You can’t judge the public’s willingness to buy into a service when said service required a failed product to use.
The 3DS also provides a Virtual Console. Albeit it focuses mainly on the portable side of Nintendo’s back catalog, due to the 3DS’s low processing capabilities. For that reason alone it won’t make much, although the (LATE!!!) release of the first and second generation Pokemon gameboy games definitely helped. (They even allow catching the 2 hidden mons legally. A feature not present in the original releases.) What doesn’t help is Nintendo’s refusal to allow more GBA titles on the 3DS Virtual Console. That’s due to the 3DS Ambassador Program. Which is completely Nintendo’s choice. Not the public’s.
Sigh [Citation Needed.]
Three times, and they shot themselves in both feet each time. If Nintendo wants money, they should quit hobbling the service from the get-go.
I just did.
It's beginning to look a lot like Disney,
It’s beginning to look a lot like Disney,
Closing ev’ry store,
But the suckiest sight to see is the games that used to be,
Will exist no more.
Re: It's beginning to look a lot like Disney,
(replace is with are)
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Hey IT. I hope you’ll get some rest soon.
The is/are distinction depends on what the focus of the usage is.
In this case it was meant to be "the suckiest sight" being singular, rather than the plural "games".
Semantics and the arguments over old furniture always result in some antics about some antiques. They’re not cast in stone, but a concrete decision might depend on what the construction company Cementix thinks.
Re: Re: Re: It's beginning to look a lot like Disney,
Ah, I see
Re: It's beginning to look a lot like Disney,
Nah, if Nintendo were Disney, they’d run all their enterprises personally.
Which is more than what could be said about Disney in Japan…
As much as we want to tout Virtual Console as being great for preservation, it’s success on the Wii is the reason it failed. Companies that didn’t have much interest in the back catalogue (and would sell them cheaply) discovered people would pay to play them again. So among other reasons, the Wii U Virtual Console only saw support from a much more limited number of publishers, and the Switch Online Services even less. Why sell or lease a game for a fraction of profit when you can package them all together in a $60 "Collector’s Edition"?
Also we then to ignore that this behavior was encouraged by us, the consumer. We are the ones that spoke with our wallets by running out and repurchasing a Final Fantasy or Super Mario Bros. game for the 10th time at an overinflated price. So Nintendo and Square think that 30 year old games still have a high value. Meanwhile, classic games by companies like Atari and Sega remain lower priced because the market won’t pay the inflated one.
So while it is simple to accuse Nintendo of wrongdoing, we also need to look at ourselves and how we feed into the problem with our purchasing choices. Konami, Capcom, SNK, and all the others sell collections instead of individual Virtual Console games because our collective actions increased their perception of the games value and they responded. Nintendo and Square-Enix have always overpriced their legacy titles going all way back to Super Mario All-Stars on SNES and Final Fantasy Collection on PS1, but we have always come back to them to get our "fix".
Nonsense. Super Mario All-Stars was a ground-up reworking of four classic games, one of which had never been released outside of Japan before, with completely new graphics and sound and significant quality-of-life improvements (read: you could save your game).
It’s been a very long time since we could expect that level of quality and care in a pack of rereleases of old games.
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For me, the last major example of high-level quality and care in a Nintendo rerelease was Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Wii. Putting aside all the tweaks and improvements, it’s two GameCube games and a Wii game on a single Wii disc, which never ceases to amaze me given how expansive each of the Prime games are.
On the other side is the Wii rerelease of Super Mario All-Stars. Good lord, what an overpriced waste.
Precisely why I avoid Nintendo like the plague and even when I ‘own’ games from online services I still keep my favorites properly pirated and stored.
"Growing" at a trickle for ages now. The NES and SNES services are still missing some first-party games (and no, I’m not counting those that needed an accessory to play) and are still lacking any Square/Enix titles, the Expansion Pack is way too expensive for what little you get (especially since most of the added cost is the Animal Crossing: New Horizons DLC), and the Game Boy line continues to be absent despite having been part of the WiiU and/or 3DS Virtual Consoles.
I am fairly sure you will never see Square Enix games on the Nintendo Switch Online service. They instead sell them to you for $20+ a piece in the eShop, Steam, and mobile markets. The expansion pack is getting somewhat better, as the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC will be included also, but you are correct that it is looking very thin compared to competition and releases seem to be a random trickle.
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Plus there’s the whole Super Mario Bros. 35 bullcrappery back in 2020-21. Releasing a game with a built-in six-month lifespan (because f-ck you that’s why) and following through on it regardless of popularity or fan outcry was…not the best move, especially when – by sheer coincidence, no doubt – Pac-Man 99 was released a week after SMB35 was shuttered.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that as well, but it’s also a spread-out multi-part release that won’t be done until sometime next year.
Agreed. It’s doubly irritating since there were multiple Square Enix titles on the NES Classic and SNES Classic, including two Final Fantasy games and Super Mario RPG.
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Not to mention Chrono Trigger.
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Chrono Trigger wasn’t on the SNES Classic, though it really should’ve been.