Whether it's music
, we've seen countless examples of how the content you think you own can either be taken away from you entirely -- or can suddenly be greatly limited, often with little to no warning. The latest example of that is courtesy of Nintendo, which is informing users
that the online components of a long list of titles
for the Nintendo Wii, DS and DSi will no longer work after May 20 of this year. From Mario Kart Wii
to Animal Crossing: Wild World
, many of these titles will suddenly find themselves with a gaping hole where core gameplay mechanics used to be. Nintendo is telling these users that they appreciate user support of legacy systems, even if Nintendo won't support them themselves:
"We at Nintendo sincerely thank our fans for their continued support of our company’s legacy systems. Your enthusiasm for games made for these systems speaks to their longevity, and the passion of Nintendo fans."
Except if you really cared about fan enthusiasm for legacy titles, why not empower them to hack together solutions to help keep at least some core multiplayer functions in place? Because that would keep them from buying your latest hardware, even if they're perfectly happy playing older games. People have a right to worry that this phenomenon is accelerating as the newer generation of consoles become more tied to the Internet and the cloud than ever before
"Nintendo's decision to stop running Wii and DS servers feels like the leading edge of a big expansion of this problem, though, as the first full console generation with tightly integrated online play starts to get phased out. I give the Xbox 360 and PS3 two or three more years at most before Sony and Microsoft decide it's not worth supporting servers for the aging hardware anymore. Looking ahead even further, there will probably come a day when Titanfall is no longer playable on the Xbox One because Microsoft thinks it's no longer worthwhile to support it (in that case, the game won't even have a single-player mode to fall back on)."
PC users for years have hammered together online solutions for this problem (albeit not always glamorously), and it doesn't seem like it would be a particularly taxing thing for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to throw a little support in the general direction of core fans, making them more likely to buy your products in the future. The alternative is a path where titles keep going up in price, while the shelf-life on their full functionality continues to decrease. Now you'll excuse me if I take one last, teary-eyed lap around Moo Moo Meadows in Mario Kart Wii