Nintendo announced that it will no longer sell games for the Wii U and 3DS games digitally after March 2023. While it’s normal for “legacy games” to no longer be in physical production, they are still selling digitally through the other stores. So why is Nintendo removing them?
In a way, it makes sense because with the Wii U and 3DS systems no longer in production, as time passes, it wouldn’t be feasible for Nintendo sell them when people are “no longer playing them”. Unlike its competitors, you can’t play these games on the Switch (the latest system).
This is where the heart of the problem lies.
Again, with the competitors, you can play most of the legacy games. For example, you can play Battlefront II (2005) on the Xbox One/Series with the similar control scheme as the original Xbox. You can’t find that on Nintendo. You won’t be able to play Twilight Princess on the Switch because it is not available.
Why couldn’t Nintendo copy what its competitors are doing by making the legacy titles backwards compatible with the current one? It worked with the original Wii and Wii U, albeit limited to only the previous generation, but it was there. Yes, the Switch is not on disc format, but Nintendo couldn’t find a way to make these games playable digitally?
There is, of course, backlash to this announcement.
YouTube gaming commentator, ReviewTechUSA, says “Nintendo doesn’t give a damn about the customer” in his 10-minute video. He has even encouraged piracy because the scarcity of these legacy titles in physical format will skyrocket the prices. (For the record, I do not encourage piracy for not only for legal, but also security reasons; downloading ROMs could install viruses, spyware, malware, or any other x-ware that can damage your computer).
Video Game History Foundation says “… we don’t understand what path Nintendo expects its fans to take, should they wish to play these games in the future.” It also calls the practice “actively destructive” in preventing the preservation of these legacy titles.
It is possible for Nintendo to make titles for the classsic Nintendo and other systems to be on the Switch. But given Nintendo’s history on how it has handled classic titles, the path to its possibility is mixed at best.
You could make the argument that you can still keep the classic systems and still play these titles. But if the games are no longer in print and they break, then where will you get them from? I’ve already addressed the piracy issue.
It seems like Nintendo still hasn’t learned anything on its own history dealing with backwards compatibility as well as how its competitors are doing it. I understand that Nintendo wants to be “creative” and “innovative” whenever a new system comes out (the Switch has now sold over 103 million units, making it Nintendo’s best-selling home console yet); but it seems short-sighted for Nintendo to not include most of its legacy titles at the launch of any new system. This is 2022, and its inexcusable for the House of Mario to act like it’s 2002.
If Nintendo still wants to continue selling like hot cakes for its next system, it needs to consider the legacy games for the new system. It could sour the fanbase and may make gamers “switch” to other systems to play those games. I don’t believe this is something Nintendo wants to do, but historically, Nintendo will Nintendo.
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.