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.