Nintendo Kills Online Functionality For Wii, DS Titles, Highlighting Need For Greater User Control Over Content They Supposedly Own

from the lonely-Mario dept

Whether it's music or games, 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 -- alone.

Filed Under: cloud, ds, wii
Companies: nintendo

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  1. identicon
    DCL, 5 Mar 2014 @ 9:09am

    Re: Expiration date

    I wonder when this will go to court. It is a tricky subject in that for it is a new area of "social contract"/"expectations" and this isn't limited to games as it includes email, online storage, web services... anything in the "cloud".

    In a way I see it as similar to "Lifetime guarantee" is was determined that by it is meant that as the lifetime of the product under normal use, but what is the "Lifetime" of a game? So many questions yet to be answered!!!!

    I would like to see game publishers offer "local online modes" or peer to peer functionality when they the sunset a title. There are a few that do it but it is rare... The problem is that wasn't built before or shortly after the game launches it is likely there is no longer any Developers around to make the conversion.... Game devs don't linger around on old projects and quickly move to help with new game and initiatives. Could the game compares open it up to the public to fix... yes but that would probably open them up to all sorts of liability and would possibly show industry secrets and give a leg up to people who maliciously hack the game for cheats. Game teams often reuse techniques and technology when possible.

    I know many of the complexities (I work in the video gaming industry) for online game servers and how sun setting them ends up being necessary... there are a lot of complexities for maintaining a service that most people don't realize many around security and network traffic, server capacity, budget, lack of developer legacy knowledge...

    ...and the anecdotal evidence that you and your friends play "ALL THE TIME" doesn't cut it as proof they shouldn't shut it down... the companies know exactly how many people are playing at any given time and how many are unique users.

    Still saddens me to see games sunsetted... even when I am not playing them anymore.

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