Nintendo’s Wii U was first announced back in 2011 and there were no statements regarding DRM back then. The console was only released in December though, so there’s no reason why Nintendo shouldn’t be facing the same challenges as Sony and Microsoft, but Satoru Iwata, global president of Nintendo, has a simple explanation. He believes the secret is to make games people do not want to sell. Although this seems like a blatant solution I don’t think it’s a realistic one, especially in today’s videogaming climate.
Nintendo think that if a game is fun gamers won’t resell it, but this isn’t the only reason people trade in their games. Most games are fun, but once the game has been bled dry there is no need to physically hold on to it if it can be exchanged for a new bundle of joy. The best part about trading in games is it makes the customer feel like they are getting a different game for a quarter of the price; Traded-in games are already half the price, and if you’re exchanging an old game as part of the payment you end up spending £10 + 1 game instead of £40 to £60.
I would say it’s a matter of pricing, but there are a multitude of reasons why gamers decide to trade in their games. Games can become boring so maybe Nintendo have hit the nail on the head.
Except I think their philosophy is out-dated. Nintendo still consider videogame consoles as toys. I suppose most people consider them a toy, but in the last 30 years an entire culture has developed around gaming. It’s not just a hobby or something to do in your spare time; it’s a lifestyle and an interactive medium, and I’m not sure Nintendo know that.
When I was young I had a Furby. When I broke one, my parents bought me another. When I got bored of it I took the batteries out and stashed it under my bed. If a friend came over who didn’t have a Furby I would get it out and show them. I never contemplated selling it to another kid. I just bought new toys. However, if my Furby could be improved or updated with better AI and new features without having to buy a brand new Furby I would have done it. This example definitely applies to consoles, but not the actual games themselves, and this is where Nintendo’s school of thought is twisted. I will buy your new console if it’s an improvement on the last, but I won’t hold on to my old games if the newer ones are doing it better.
Nintendo also want their games to be convenient as party games. They want to make games that customers hold onto in case a friend comes over to play. The problem is that this social activity isn’t necessary since the advent of online multiplayer. I am on Nintendo’s side with this one though. No amount of online multiplayer can make up for playing Super Smash Bros. Melee in your living room surrounded by empty pizza boxes and beer bottles.
All I ask is that Nintendo realise their simple solution to keep making fun games won’t solve the DRM crisis. I hope they do so before it hits them too hard. If they insist that games are toys at least acknowledge that the fun can be sold to buy better, improved fun.
– Lee Chesnalavage