The Nintendo Direct from last week announced that 3DS games would be coming to the New Nintendo 3DS hardware. With My Nintendo Accounts set to launch before the month’s end, many were wondering if this would be the first example of how Nintendo could utilize a shared Nintendo Account System. Effectively granting customers that had already purchased the incoming SNES games on other consoles access to download the games on their 3DS systems free of charge. When the announcement failed to live up to some people’s expectation…..
As we discussed in our Nintendo Direct bonus podcast – I feel like the expectation for Nintendo to feature a unified account system that spans across Nintendo devices is warranted. However it is my opinion that the urgency placed on this transition is misplaced. One common fact left unmentioned when complaining about purchasing Super Mario World for the seventh time however is that Nintendo currently does not charge for an account system as its other console competitors do. That’s right, in case you forgot, Nintendo offers online multiplayer to the customer free of charge. Sure, you don’t receive your “free game” each month, but there are advantages to Nintendo’s current lack of a subscription service. For example – Sony & Xbox Live offers the consumer “free games” as added value of continuing to subscribe to their service. Quit the service and those titles are no longer available to be played. Nintendo’s approach offers independence in how your money is spent. You have the choice of which games you want to purchase free from additional monetary commitment in some subscription. 2014, in my opinion, was one of the worst years to be reliant upon a gaming subscription. If not for Rocket League, I would have to admit that I played few if any of the games I was provided access to during the year. Here in 2016 – my subscriptions are due to be renewed before the end of the year and I’m left wondering how much value I’m getting out of that annual $60 dollar fee. I for one really enjoy my subscription service to Sony and Microsoft for no other reason than it provides access to games I might otherwise never play which is always a plus, but I sometimes wonder if I just stopped paying for the subscription if I would ever miss it.
Can you re-download all of your digital PlayStation purchases on every PlayStation device you own free of charge? Xbox devices? Not really. I own plenty of digital PS3 games that aren’t available to me on PS4 or Vita. I have a 50+ digital Xbox 360 library that also mostly non-existent on Xbox One even with their backwards compatibility solution for select games. I owned GTA III on PS3 and had to repurchase the game on PS4 and that’s in addition to the PSN subscription. If I had it my way I would much rather be able to purchase Red Dead Redemption again on Xbox One at $14.99 and pocket my XBL subscription than wait for the inevitable E3 announcement and feel like I’ve been given something special. But you’ll be hard pressed to find blogs running stories about those examples or to hear gamers complain about them.
Comparing that experience to my Wii U and 3DS eShop purchases over the past few years and the dilemma isn’t present. Would I love for my Nintendo libraries to 100% sync free of charge for me? Without a doubt yes. At the cost of $60 (or more) per year (the answer is most likely still yes just for convenience) but I do begin to question the value of that investment. I think I would prefer to cherry pick games that I wanted – Super Mario World for example – at $7.99 on my Wii U and my 3DS than pay Nintendo $60 each year and allow them to decide which game I get for “free” each month in a subscription scenario. I also would much rather pay them to own Super Mario World twice (3DS & Wii U) than pay for a Virtual Console subscription fee that many gaming personalities have proposed over the years. Call me old fashioned by I still own my music library, I don’t want to beholden to yet another service. I also don’t spend $60 dollars most years on Virtual Console games. I usually stick to the 4-5 that still tug on my heartstrings when I get that nostalgic feeling.
So why does Nintendo seem to strike this cord? My opinion – and this entire article is just that, my opinion – it’s because Nintendo has games that are worth re-buying. Of course we want Super Mario World, Link to the Past, and Earthbound on every gaming device we own. They’re some of the greatest games ever created and one only needs to look at the ROMs available to most every tablet and PC if you really hated paying Nintendo twice that much. These games are the reason why so many have called for Nintendo to abandon hardware and go third party. People want to play these video games and rightfully so. Equally so, Nintendo has the right to peddle these classics and the timeless Nintendo IP as the reason we continue to purchase their hardware.
I did the math. Over the past 10 years I’ve spent $39.95 to play Super Mario World across my many Wii’s, Wii U’s, and my 3DS. That’s less than a subscription would have cost by far. Instead of using that model to justify an account system I look at the money saved vs. another subscription and I think we should all be hesitant to want Nintendo to be more like Sony. I’m sure Nintendo is going to address cross platform purchases with the new My Nintendo account system rolling out next week. For my sake, I hope it is more than another PlayStation Network clone.