News Article

Talking Point: The Uncertain Collectible Future of Download-Only Game Libraries

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Servers will surely shut down, but what about the games?

Just before the weekend, a number of Wii Channels were shut down. On 28th June most of the online enabled channels and services — such as Weather, News, Everyone Votes and Wii Connect 24 — went off air; low participation rates more than likely caused Nintendo to deem them an expense not worth maintaining. On top of that, Capcom shut down the Monster Hunter Tri servers at the end of April, in one swoop taking away one of the Wii's finest online games and pushing dedicated hunters towards Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on Wii U.

In some respects this is an inevitable part of modern gaming, as online services don't last forever; we can rebel against it, but it'll always happen. However, as Nintendo platforms increasingly focus on retail downloads and download-only games, we're approaching an interesting tipping point — what happens when the Wii Shop shuts down? Where does all of that WiiWare content go? Even if WiiWare is eventually transferred to the Wii U eShop, what about the next Nintendo home console? Will there be a time when these download games simply disappear, never to be played again?

It's a scenario we're yet to face, as download-only games have only emerged in the most recent generation of dedicated gaming systems, with Wii and DSi being Nintendo's debut efforts. The emergence of the 3DS saw almost all DSiWare titles transfer across to its eShop, while the Wii U has an alternative approach with its Wii Mode, which essentially emulates the older system and, with it, the Wii Shop.

And so, the closing off of various Wii online services in recent times brings to mind an interesting dilemma as we consider the fate not of multiplayer servers and information channels, but of an entire games library in itself. The role of downloadable games continues to increase in the world of Nintendo, and some of them — from the earliest Wii and and DSi efforts to today's efforts — are top-notch, memorable experiences. Their ongoing presence is under threat in a way that retro games are not, because there's no tangible replacement. The same applies for retail downloads, in theory, but in the overwhelming majority of cases they have a physical equivalent on a cart or disc.

So how will we collect or retrieve WiiWare or DSiWare games in 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years? Likewise for 3DS and Wii U eShop titles in the future? There are some scenarios where a user may want to retrieve or buy these download games in years to come; you may have accidentally deleted a game and want to re-download, or there could be issues with your system where memory gets corrupted, or something could go wrong when loading account details on a fresh console — let's assume that account-based systems will eventually arrive from Nintendo, rather than content being locked to hardware. Perhaps it's just down to a personal choice, a desire to pick up a Nintendo download exclusive like Art of Balance in the future.

These are all unanswered questions at this stage, which haven't required an answer due to Nintendo's download platforms not falling outside of the company's standard one-system backward compatibility policy. We're potentially five years or less away from it becoming a real issue with a fresh handheld or home console, however, while the mothballing of most of the Wii's online channels puts the Wii Shop next on the chopping block, with just the occasional Virtual Console release keeping the service active. Will Nintendo facilitate a transfer of all of that content to the Wii U eShop if it decides to shut down the Wii store?

There are broad questions up in the air, in that case, all because of the fundamental difference between physical and download software. You can still, to this day, purchase and use cartridges from the NES and its predecessors in the games industry, and find hardware that's still functional to play these titles. Retro collecting is a serious hobby as a result, and has its own culture and fanbase in the market. As we move forward questions will be asked about whether those days will be lost, or whether companies will make a distinction between optional online services and multiplayer servers, which are shut down, and full download games. It's surely a topic of interest for smaller developers, too, and one we'll follow up on in the coming days and weeks; let's also not forget that, until consumer reaction drove it to a u-turn, Microsoft was ready to push these kinds of issues further with the Xbox One.

So in this time of download vs physical, we've perhaps overlooked the potential short-term dangers for download-only games surviving beyond one or two system generations; will they even be collectible? Lots of open-ended questions, so we want to know what you think.

We've set up a thread in our community forum where you will have a chance to have your voice heard on Nintendo Life. It'll be open until 10pm UK time / 5pm Eastern on Thursday 4th July, at which stage it'll be locked; we'll take the best comments and debate points from that thread and publish them in a weekend feature here on the site. By all means sound off in the comments below as always, but if you want an opportunity to have your comments posted in a feature article, head on over to the forum thread.

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User Comments (92)



Morph said:

I cant understand why nintendo didnt work with devs to make wii ware available through the eshop, I know we can get it through the wii mode but its a pain in the ar$e to do. The likes of lost winds could find a whole new audience



KeeperBvK said:

Just recently I purchased every single remaining WiiWare game that seemed interesting to me. Luckily, the Wii doesn't have to be online to access any previously purchased download-only games,so I'll be safe unless my Wii decides to die on me one day.



Darknyht said:

I have an estimated $300 in WiiWare and Virtual Console games that is now vapor thanks to their policies. I can see them on my Club Nintendo account, but I am not allowed to access them.

While Downloadable games are the future, it is a crappy future at least as far as consoles go. Steam seems to be the only client software that understands that just because you buy new hardware, the software should still work (and be available).



cheesesteak7 said:

This is why Nintendo NEEDS to streamline the account-game-Mii infrastructure. Seriously. That reason alone is why I'm still reluctant to get a Wii U.



SchamMan89 said:

Steam has been around for a while now, and they're great about keeping everything accessible through the service. I can't imagine that NOT continuing.

A big problem is that consoles keep changing their architecture so much that past games don't even work. That's absurd to me. Modern PCs support games from the 90s! There's no reason that, for example, a PS4 won't play PS3 games.

If we get to the point of more widespread hardware compatibility, then I don't see what the problem would be keeping these games on servers. They'd be such a ridiculously small amount of space at that point... why not just keep them around to get the occasional sales?

@JGMR, I have bought nearly all of my games digital in the last year. Does that mean I'm not real?



Peach64 said:

If they switched to a proper account system there would be no problem. They'll have to change eventually. We're getting to the point where disc-based media is going to be the biggest bottleneck preventing consoles from running games to their maximum potential. Digital is the future, and if Nintendo insist on running their stores as they are now, they're going to lose a lot of customers over it.



JGMR said:

@Kodeen By not buying into that crap, you're actually directing it's course. Developers will put more effort into titles, making them big enough and worthy enough for a retail release. Plus one could release several games on retail mediums. That's what they should do with the Oddworld titles for example.



Hordak said:

This is why I only buy physical copies of games. I still have my original copy of Kid Niki Radical Ninja that I got on Christmas morning 1987 for the NES. I can still put it in and play it to this day with no need to connect to the internet, no updates to install and no risk of a sever being shut down that prevents the game from even functioning.



Metalslime said:

@JGMR Some games are too niche to have a physical release, or are too small to warrant the expense. At the end of the day I just want to play games and if having to bear a download-only title every once in a while I will.



JGMR said:

@Kodeen Well, there were games made by 1 person back in the 80s and 90s. They got retail releases and some were even considered classics. If a game is classic it's classic, and it should be absolutely preserved and spread wide via retail.



Windy said:

How about Bringing Dragon Quest X to North America and stop holding that one out!



Fingeldor said:

To me, the content always has to be accessible, otherwise I think publishers waive their right to it in a way. If i'm trading in tangibility for accessibility, it simply has to be available. It's one thing to unplug a free weather service, but it's entirely another matter to unplug virtual content that I've paid for. The size of the content, too, will be less meaningful in years to come and digital archiving should be relatively inexpensive for both the minority of future gamers who desire access to those old titles and the companies who host it. It's bad business to do it any other way and if those digital walls crumble down when we're locked out of our purchases, consumer confidence will slip.



CrazyOtto said:

I hope they bring the Wiiware games to the 9th gen's console eShop emulated while they still have a separate Wii U Mode for Wii U games and the Wii U eShop. Even though 7th gen was slightly longer than 6th gen. I hope generations last a longer time, or I might just switch from console gaming to PC gaming.



JGMR said:

@Kodeen That's why it would be a great idea if the platform holders would make compilations of independent titles for example. SONY already does this with their 'The Best PlayStation Network' compilations.



DarkLloyd said:

Ingoring the fact that im an alltime physical person, this is the reason why i dont invest or want an all digital future

for this very reason id sooner drop out of the gaming business and probably just stick to steam beacause the games are so cheap that i feel like i wont miss it because i barely paid for it to begin with so no money loss on that account beside being able to work anywhere on any computer

for which the triology company doesnt function like that 20 years ahead upon thier new consoles.

so i think digital is only being praised for the convience rather thinking about its potiental problem firsthand

this is a fast reply lol



Kirk said:

The major problem I have with download games is if you don't get to own those digital copies and have them stored somewhere permanently so that you can access and play them at any time and that could mean 20 years into the future or whatever.

Other than that I've not got a problem with the basic concept.



SanderEvers said:

Well console games tend to last one or two generations. And if a new system is released that doesn't support older games you'll either have to buy new games for your new system or stick with the old one.

The masses will move on, which means that there will be less to do in online games (very good example: Guild Wars 1) and there is less infrastructure needed to keep those games running.



GiftedGimp said:

@Peach64 Having a Unified Nintendo account wont make a difference to Digital releases having a finite amount of time before if you don't already have a Digital Title downloaded you'll lose it.
Xbox Live and Psn both have a unified system yet NO 360 digital titles will work on the Xbone and in years to come MS will turn ofv the 360 xbl servers as they did on the Xbox a few years after the 360 had been in sale. Ps4 is slightly different as if/when Sony turn off the Ps3 psn servers you may still have access to at least some of your Ps3 downloads via the Ps4's cloud streaming service but you still at the metcy of which titles you've brought and Which titles are available.
Even transfering drm rights from old to new replacment hardware is/will only be possible on 360/ps3 if the servers are still active for that system.
Regardless of how drm is handled digital downloads will not always be available to you unless you are lucky enough to not have a system fail on you even after the system generation has long passed and you dont have a hdd failure. The thing is Ps4 Xbone and WiiU (possibly WiiU2 if released within 5/6 years) will be the last home systems to have games published as physical media.



EarthboundBenjy said:

Can someone confirm with the recent shutting down of WiiConnect24, is it now completely and utterly impossible to swap friend vouchers in Metroid Prime 3 and Metroid Prime Trilogy? Because if so, that sucks so, so badly. The friend voucher system was worthless to begin with, anyway. I just don't understand the motivation behind creating such a system that forces people to take meaningless extra steps to complete an objective.



Bragoon said:

The addition of Quote in your banner there doesn't really apply since there's a cartridge version of Cave Story.

Regardless, this is an ever-present weight for me, and does restrict some of my digital purchasing. I haven't bought quite a number of Virtual Console games because it's worth the extra money to me to get hard copies. All things are finite, and perhaps cartridges even more so for the foreseeable future, but careful attention to your cartridges and discs greatly increases their shelf lives.



C-Olimar said:

I doubt Nintendo will shut down the Wii Shop, not while it is available on Wii U. Perhaps if they add WiiWare to the eShop...
Plus, I'm sure Ninty at least will always make your games available, though probably only if you upgrade to their latest console.



hYdeks said:

I think Nintendo will keep WiiWare and the Virtual Console on Wii, the other channels where pointless, so it didn't matter if they got rid of them or not I think they will probably get rid of the Virtual Console of Wii eventually as we see the Wii U one grow, though.



Mayhem said:

Preservation? The future? The ability to still play downloaded games long after they have ceased to be available? Pirates.

Say what you will about folks who pirate current games, but having worked on projects to record, document and preserve games on a number of 70s and 80s platforms, those folks are often the main way anything gets saved for posterity.

I don't condone piracy, but it's a very evident fact of life that what they do eventually benefits various communities.



Dr_Corndog said:

This is one of the reasons I tend to limit my download-only purchases to PC games. It also illustrates why games with online multiplayer are better on PC, too: years after Microsoft shut down its own servers, I can still play Age of Empires 2 through services like GameRanger.



thepitt said:

I worry about my PS3 content (games, DLC, etc...) that requires a connection to PSN to actually use when the PSN servers are gone. The fact that when you cannot connect to PSN (for any reason) you can't use certain content you paid for bothers me which is why I try not to purchase anything from PSN. If this is the way the WiiU deals with game downloads or other content then I would also try avoiding purchasing it.

No one can tell the future and having the servers go down or worse in a time frame that you cannot predict is something I don't like to gamble with.

With a SNES as long as you have a power source and a display you can play your games. I believe that, if time allows, when certain servers or required services for your game/content to "work" that this content then be patched to allow it to be used without the required servers/services.

Think of Unreal Tournament III for the PC. When it first came out it required the physical disc to be in the drive at all time when you played the game. After some years this requirement was removed with a patch for the game.

I believe any responsible company selling games or content that requires a connection to a certain server/service over the Internet would allow the games/content to be accessed once those servers go down with the use of a patch.

Otherwise some smart people are going to have to setup their own servers, program their own authentication apps and then use some proxy settings to renable stuff they paid good money for. That's at least what I'd do if I paid for $1,000+ worth of stuff then got the boot.



Onion said:

The Nintendo Life article isn't quite accurate when it says this is a problem we've yet to face. We've already faced this issue before with the BS Satellite and the Sega Dreamcast. Many of the BS versions of games vanished, and some of the download-only games from the Dreamcast era (such as Rockman World) suffered the same fate. It's inevitable that sooner or later digital games will stop being offered on a current service, but depending on the licensing and popularity they may be offered again in the future.

In the case of online games such as Monster Hunter Tri, people need to understand that when they buy a game solely to play online, it will eventually become useless to them when the servers go down. It happened before with the original Xbox Live and Phantasy Star Online. As long as people keep that in mind before they plunk down 59.99$ on a game, there should be no issue. It's also one of the reasons why I usually stick to offline gaming, though in the case of the Monster Hunter series I don't mind because when the servers shut down you still have your awesome Deviljho armor or whatever to play with offline. This is something I've had to explain to some of my Halo and Call of Duty addicted friends and their usual response is something along the lines of "Well by then there'll be a new Halo/Call of Duty so who cares?".

Of course I don't think anyone is going to deny that collecting original copies is ideal, but as others have pointed out some games (Such as Shank, State of Decay, Mega Man 9, etc. ) just aren't available any other way. Fishbowling yourself as a "real gamer" and sticking to only physical copies is a needless limitation and certainly doesn't make someone anymore of a "real gamer" than anyone else. Downloading digital copies can sometimes be a better alternative as well, since some games (such as Ogre Battle 64) can easily run for 60 and 70 dollars online just for a loose cart. Hardcore collectors like myself may be fine with spending that kind of money, but not everyone is, and in that case digital content can be more appealing. It's also worth pointing out that some people travel and it's generally much easier to carry one console loaded down with 100+ games that is to carry the physical copies around. Finally, sometimes it can be a matter of shelf space or because some games have been remade with HD in mind. For example, I own over 600 physical games in a single room with over a dozen consoles as well. Because of this, sometimes I will opt for a digital copy so I don't take up even more space or because it's more convenient than hooking up a system to play one or two games. As if that isn't enough, there's the issue of imports. Some games were only released in Japan and in recent years these games have been getting digital releases here in the US, sometimes complete with translations. Importing physical copies can be expensive due to shipping, not to mention that you need a means to run these games. Things get muddier if you take into account that some of the original hardware isn't ideal. Take the NES for example. Excellent library of games, but the "box" model that everyone is most familiar with wasn't made all that well. The main issue being the fact it loads games from the front, causing the 72 pin connector to wear out. The Top Loader model fixed this, but it's more expensive. The Game Gear is another prime example of the original hardware being problematic. The Game Gear was notorious for it's battery usage, but it also has an issue with caps leaking all over the motherboard. Doesn't help that the Game Gear picture quality was never all that great to begin with and the only alternative is a Majesco model Game Gear which aren't that easy to find right now. There's also the rare case of a digital version of a game being completely superior to the original in addition to being cheaper and more convenient. I need look no further than the XBLA release of Guardian Heroes, which completely stomps the original version in almost every possible way, and that's coming from someone who owns the original disc for the Saturn and not just some joker who downloaded the ISO and ran it in an emulator. What about games breaking, being misplaced, or having their save batteries die? None of these issues are present with digital copies. The worst thing that can happen with a digital release is that you miss out on it and it's removed for some reason or another, or the server shut down before you can buy it. In most cases, once you buy a game you can download it as many times as you want and provided nothing happens to the system or storage device housing them, they will last pretty much for as long as you need.

There are a lot of variables involved here and it's important to keep in mind that because staying physical only works for you, it doesn't mean it's the only way to enjoy games nor does it mean it's the way everyone else should. More importantly, it's been suggested that at some point gaming will become entirely digital which serves as further reason not to fishbowl yourself with physical games. Of course, anytime someone opens a statement with "real gamer" anything they say should be taken with a grain of salt anyway.

There is of course an issue with games that require you to be online to play and in that case we certainly do have a problem and it's the reason people often refuse to buy games that function that way.

FInally, what Mayhem said about piracy is actually pretty accurate. People often put piracy in a negative light, but think back to the 70's and 80's where people would copy things to a floppy and share them with friends. They didn't do it because they wanted to hurt the company, they did it because they loved the games and wanted to share them. It's the same thing now and as much as people like to trash talk piracy, in the end piracy may be the ultimate method of preserving these games.



TrueWiiMaster said:

This is why I keep everything downloaded after I buy it. If the servers go down, and you don't actually possess some of your games, you're out of luck. For this same reason, I tend to buy hard copy retail games instead of digital copies when possible, and generally avoid games where online play is pretty much all there is. The internet's great, but it puts virtual expiration dates on far too many games.



Mahe said:

This is much better on Nintendo systems than on the competition. Wii U is practically fully compatible with Wii, and you can download WiiWare games through the Wii mode. PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox aren't backwards compatible and don't support their predecessors' download libraries, so your only option is to keep those consoles if you want to keep playing their games. At least with the Wii U, you can still enjoy Wii games. Likewise with 3DS, which even supports original DS carts.



micronean said:

You basically have to look at Donkey Kong Country to see where download-only is heading. The company that sells you the game can easily take it from you, and make it disappear from existence. With a physical copy, it's still available for anyone to use.



Chris720 said:

I doubt Nintendo will shut down any of their previous online stores any time soon. And since it looks like Nintendo are going to stick with the eShop name, I can see them closing down the DSi and Wii specific shops in maybe 10-20 years and moving those downloads over to the eShop, which hopefully would be unified by then.

Maybe once WiiWare and DSiWare start dying off and developers are moving on to the eShop they might close them down and move the content over to the eShop.



ScruffyYoshi said:

I may be old fashioned but physical "for the win"! I have my old consoles set up and can still play all my mega drive, n64, snes etc games today that I purchased (or had off santa to be precise ^_^) from 20-25 years ago.



One-Winged-Pit said:

@TrueWiiMaster Yep, this is exactly how I am. I will always buy the physical game instead of the digital given the choice (hoping Ace Attorney 5 gets physical release) unless the deal is REALLY good to pass up but apparently that will never happen, I only get digital PC games is as far as I go. I like knowing I can always go back to a game and having collectables. The only mostly online play games I would get is Monster Hunter.



Mahe said:

@micronean If you bought the games before they were taken out, you can still download them as many times as you like. You can even transfer them to Wii U and play them there. The only people who can't access them now are new buyers who might be interested but didn't buy them when they were available.



gblock said:

Soft mod your Wii with HBC and get your games "elsewhere" and you ain't gotta worry about losing them if your system dies, get another one, re-mod, re-install...



Hyperstar96 said:


Before anyone gives me any angry glares, keep in mind that piracy might be the only option in the future; not just the easiest one. In order for compatibility with, say, DSiWare games to be possible three or four generations from now, there will most likely have to be some sort of emulator (yes, the Virtual Console counts as emulation) or future systems will need native BC with everything.

How do you people get your games for outdated systems most (if not all) of the time? Virtual Console? ROMs? Either way, those are methods of digital distribution. But there may not be a Virtual Console for every system in the future, just as there isn't now, and not all games for all systems will have VC versions. For these games, the obvious legal solution is to buy the original physical copy. But if there is no original physical copy, then piracy will have to be the only option if you want to start playing an older game.

... Of course, all of this is assuming consoles will even last three or four more generations, which I highly doubt XD



SkywardLink98 said:

(copied from my post on the forums) Maybe [they could offer] "burnable" discs that allow [you] to install my downloadable games on them? Sorta like music, where you can download it and burn it to a physical disc. Now, you can't re-install it via the disc, but you can still play the game. That'd be awesome.



Mahe said:

@Hyperstar96 Some games are also re-released for newer systems, such as Cave Story from DSiWare to 3DS eShop. But most games will stay native to their original system. Even Virtual Console offers only a small amount of the games from the supported platforms. How can you play Panzer Dragoon Zwei from Sega Saturn in this day and age? There aren't a lot of options.



SonataAndante said:

@Hyperstar96 I was about to make a similar point actually. Gaming is young enough right now that loss of access to games has yet to be a huge sweeping issue, but depending on what road it all goes down piracy might very well be the only method of preservation of some games, particularly digital only games. I don't condone the piracy of things like WiiWare games, which are still being sold, but I can't ignore the possibility of those pirated copies being the only way those games survive for any decent length of time. I hope it never comes to that, but the digital trend isn't terribly old right now so it's hard to tell how much support previous gen digital shops will get.

Heck, the whole piracy as preservation issue stands for some physical games too. Anyone remember the Game Boy Advance Mega Man Anniversary Collection that got canceled? It was supposed to be a collection of the 5 Game Boy games with color added. Problem was is that apparently Capcom managed to misplace the source code for some of the games. A real shame, as due to that we might not see all the Game Boy games on the 3DS VC. Obviously we got Wily's Revenge so that game is safe, but what of Mega Man V? The cart alone is uncommon and pricey, and we may never see it released digitally.

Eh, that ended up being a rant, but overall I agree Hyperstar's sentiment.



JGMR said:

Who's for a 3DS compilation, retail, of Mega Man 9 + 10? Would you buy it? I would.



JGMR said:

Isn't it funny, reading my previous commentary, that we can have a Super Mario All-Stars for Wii, selling out, while there's no demand of a new Mega Man compilation? Am I so passionate, or is the majority of gamers just plain lazy?



AugustusOxy said:

This is what microsoft wants. The whole appeal of the 360 for me was the arcade and the fact that the XBOXone is pissing it down their legs upsets me.



unrandomsam said:

@JGMR No Capcom seems to have switched to a business model that is short term profits for the least possible cost regardless of how annoying it is for the customer. (They stuck loads of ad's into paid copies of games for iOS / DLC policies are make as much as possible). Killing off Monster Hunter wii this soon will maybe not have an immediate effect but eventually people will start avoiding them wholesale. (LIke I do EA and Ubisoft).

They won't even do the new Ace Attorney Retail. (Which I thought was a fairly popular series).

I got Streetfighter IV 3DS dirt cheap. (Which is strange as I would have bought it for normal price) and got my 3DS XL fairly close to when it was released. (Fairly logical to me that older people are more likely to want a bigger screen and more likely to play Streetfighter.)

Most of Capcom's good portable stuff seems to be on the PSP.

Mega Man Powered Up / Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X / Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins / Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded / Capcom Classics Collection Remixed

I would probably buy anything with at least as good sprites as the Genesis version of Megaman The Wily Wars. (Cannot handle the flickering. I could turn it off on Megaman 9 but not 10).

Think I prefer Megaman X anyway.



GamerJunkie said:

Nintendo sure gives up on its customers quickly once they make a new console huh?

This is why I will only buy most of my stuff on Steam, they are gonna be around a loooong time.



unrandomsam said:

@AugustusOxy I think it is EA that wants it. Other people see EA totally screwing the customer over with its sports games and want to copy it but they don't have the same power to do it.



gblock said:

@AugustusOxy I MAYBE bought 3 "retail" games for Xbox, the rest of my gaming purchases was for XBLA. Why pay $60 on a game I probably won't complete when I can get the same about of gaming fun (at least for me) with a game that costs $5 to $15?



JGMR said:

@gblock That's the whole point: you're not owning a game; you're owning a license (and you agreed with it when downloading it).



McGruber said:

Not being able to buy the Wiiware games through the eShop is horrible. It's doing a big injustice to the makers of those games because I, for one find it too cumbersome. The 3DS does this with Dsiware, so what was the thinking in that?



WaxxyOne said:

First, while I can't speak for other, more greedy companies, Nintendo's model at least doesn't take away the stuff you've already downloaded, so theoretically you can keep playing your games until your console no longer works. Secondly, I believe Nintendo will keep offering classic games as long as there is a market for them that keeps it worthwhile. Third, if all else fails and Nintendo is unwilling or unable to continue offering games for a price, well..... that's where emulation comes in.



Williaint said:

Some people just like having physical Downloads....
You say this like It was 2003. Are you criticizing the Gamecube?



DarkEdi said:

I have open a topic in VC forum. Another game was retired from the Wii VC service. So this is a topic related.



cheleuitte said:

I have around US$1,000 in purchases in my wii and already transfer them to my WiiU, Im a collector so my digital collection is safe in my xbox360 and PS3, nintendo should do the same approach as them...



Peppy_Hare said:

@Darknyht man I hear you. I "invested" a crazy number of dollars in VC games that are essentially worthless 'cause they're tied to the console. Honestly I feel a little betrayed by Nintendo based on their out-dated digital policies.



JaxonH said:

Umm, any downloaded WiiWare games are still playable. No one's blocking anything as far as your already purchased games go. Those $300 worth of games are not vaporware. They're still very much playable, and will continue to be. The only aspect of those games that's being affected is A) any online servers related to certain games' contents, like multiplayer, and B) your ability to re-download the game if you ever delete the original for some reason (hint: don't delete your games). As of right now, however, the WiiShop is STILL OPEN FOR BUSINESS. You can still redownload any accidental deletions at this very moment if you so desire.



JaxonH said:

A valid point. Digitally exclusive games are not on the menu forever. Buy while you can. However, anyone who bought the game when it WAS available is not having that game taken from them. It is theirs to play forever, or until the console eventually kicks the bucket. So the rule to live by with digital is "Buy it now if you want it".



Araknie said:

@Darknyht It's not true, there are a lot of those games that are totally offline, they should work.

Only the few that are only online should not work but that's the only problem. It's normal that they will bring down online services after a while but, i repeat, offline games are not affected.

You have the Wii U with the Wii inside of it and games are there, they cannot take backwards compability away so every offline game will work forever.

I have SNES and N64, NGC and a Wii U so i'm covered, this article only tells that you will not be able to buy them in the future but that only 100% online games will be lost, why did you even think that offline games will be precluded to you...i don't know.



Robottiimu2000 said:

I think this is exactly the reason why download games should cost less money. Then there would be a justification of merely purchasing the right to use the product and not owning it per se.



DESS-M-8 said:

@JGMR Real gamers do not buy retail. Real gamers buy games. Does that mean ten years from now when it IS all digital that you will cease to game? Or be a 'real gamer' by your definition.?

This problem is a problem easily remedied from its current situation.

1) assign all purchases to a customer owned account and NOT to a piece of hardware, so in the event of a breakdown 5, 10, 15 years down the line WE can reinstate our purchases on our own machine instantly at home.

2) create a backup tool for client use whereby I can create a virtual clone of my console library and save states to an external storage drive that I can reinstall to any machine that has been formatted with my account. The same anyone does with Time Machine on Mac, with restore points on windows PC or with iPhone when you sync on your mac. Your phone breaks? Buy a new one, plug into mac and restore with the profile and software you previously saved.

Very straight forward, yor games are yours forever and 'looking after them with great care' is still possible, its just instead of cleaning discs and carefully handling them, you just manage your data properly and your games are yours for the rest of your life.



TwilightV said:

Most DSiWare games transferred over to the 3DS eShop. I don't see why the same wouldn't be true of most WiiWare titles eventually. And hopefully this trend continues well into the future. It's one of the biggest advantages Nintendo has over it's competitors.



Darknyht said:

@Araknie The games are gone, as per the Nintendo of America rep I spoke with since I do not have the console anymore (it died years ago and we got rid of it since it was out of warranty). I purchased a Wii U recently and was curious if I could reclaim my purchases.

As far as I can tell, Nintendo is the only game console with such a horrible, backwards policy on downloadable content. Any other console, the games are tied to your ID and you can download them with that ID. Only Nintendo locks them to a console with little options if the console dies (except paying them to retrieve them).



linkdeku7 said:

Jailbreaking... Homebrews, emulators, and ROMs. This is pretty much the answer here once all servers have been shut down. I've played SNES and N64 ROMs with online multiplayer before, so simulating online multiplayer for Wii would not be impossible.



Shambo said:

I've never liked downloadable games. Sure I often like the games themselves, but it doesn't feel right. More than once I bought a game again if it got a retail re-release, like the bit trip collection and in some way Cave Story 3d, or Journey collection, Walking Dead season 1 and Limbo from psn (the latter is a pc collector's edition, and I'm looking to get the fan's edition of Machinarium).

Retail is the past and present for me, and the only possibility with an actual future. Should it disappear completely, my gaming days are over. Well, no, but I'd stop getting new ones.



datamonkey said:

First of all Nintendo need to supply us with a proper account based system that tracks all purchases. Hopefully that is on the cards as their current system is terrible and it shows in the lack of uniformity of game distribution and their online store fronts...

Nintendo have been very slow in the uptake of online but at least they acknowledge it as a business now!




Nintendo should have had an infrastructure set in place already when it comes to their digital sales. It's one of the painfully obvious "must haves" for modern gaming that's left me scratching my head.

Club Nintendo is already a "thing" that tracks sales of digital items, why not just rebrand that and use it?



russellohh said:

@JGMR And pay 4x the price for a disk or cartridge that can be damaged or lost? Never. I did read all of your posts on the Vita article- yes, SD cards can degrade over time. But so did cartridges. Maybe 2/3 of my SNES cartridges still function. The battery of my Earthbound wore down from dozens of plays, and I'm now out a 300$ cartridge. But my SD card version of games I've had for nearly a decade? They're on their third or 4th SD card. No one, literally no one, keeps the same SD card for decades. I probably own a dozen, with all of my 3DS games free and legally backed up to Amazon, Google, and Skydrive's Clouds. As long as I still own the 3DS, I have easy access to all the games. Years ago I lost my copy of The World Ends With You for the DS- 70 hours of playtime gone. Around the same time, my studio went out of business and my PC with all my game saves was repossessed. I can now log on, years later, and access all those files, and all of those games, easily, from any PC on the planet. When my wife left her SD card at a friends house, I redownloaded the games with her system, grabbed the save files off my PC, and we were good to go within minutes. Real gamers do whatever the crap they want. But I go digital. $7 for LEft4Dead with Cloud saves and all DLC, or $110 for a fragile plastic Left4Dead disk with all DLC? That's not even a a consideration.



Kagamine said:

I always opt for retail when available when it comes to consoles. But as far as PC goes, I haven't bought a physical game in over 3 years.



SyFyTy said:

I've been contemplating this since my last Advance Wars Days of Ruin... this is why I'm not keen on so many gammes today being multiplayer-centric. They lose a good protion of thier value once the servers are shut down.Local Multiplayer is the only cavet there. In years gone by people played thier old GBA NES< and SNES games because the cartiges were available, but what will happen now that there are no cartriges? Newer replacement 3ds's (once they stop production) and such will not be able to play, what isn't available to Download, nostalgia (and the momentum it creates) comes to a grinding halt. Bad for players AND manufacturers.



russellohh said:

@SyFyTy Thankies! Advance Wars DS I owned for years - 300 hours in. At one point, I realized I hadn't played it in 2 years, maybe 3. So, I sold it for like $40. Now, I miss it, and wish I had it on 3DS, where nothing can get lost. Insecticide was a similar story- $7 used at gamestop, $20 at Walmart- 25 cents on Steam. Even if i wanted to sell it, and could, 25 cents isn't worth walking to my mailbox. Downloads, forever!



russellohh said:

Also, I disagree completely with "Newer replacement 3ds's (once they stop production) and such will not be able to play, what isn't available to Download"

My sNES couldnt play NES games, and my N64 couldn't play SNES games. Now, my 3DS has Genesis, Master System, GBA, and NES games all over it.

My Wii has Commodore 64, Turbo..whatever it was, N64, and SNES games on it. Yes, it sucked when EA took SimCity off the online services, but.... Fire Emblem Gamecube is no longer sold in stores, so it goes for $150 on Ebay. Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones goes for $70 online. Or, I can get the free, legal download, and play for as long as my 3DS physically works. In the end, I can't find EArthbound for under $400 in cartridge form, but I can buy and download it within seconds.



Darknyht said:

@Araknie No problem. I never thought it would have been a problem either. I thought long and hard before I decided to purchase any downloadable titles on the Wii U. Eventually I did because $10-15 is more in my budget usually than $60, but I now understand exactly how much those purchases are really worth (zero) if something goes wrong. I will enjoy them as the short term purchases they are because eventually I will lose access to them.



Griffondo said:

This is why i like getting physical copys of Games/Music, I just hate the idea of something going wrong and having to buy the same games all over again.



Wheels2050 said:

@russellohh: I agree with many of your points in principle, but in practice it's not quite that easy. On the PC, sure, Steam allows you to install and play games on any system, and even includes cloud saving (or you can manually transfer saves, as you've stated).

However, DRM restrictions mean that you aren't always able to backup games as an insurance policy. For example, what happens if you lose your 3DS? Nintendo doesn't have an account system (yet), so your game backups won't work on a different console. You could easily render your entire digital game collection useless by losing the console, whereas that's not the case with physical copies (at least, you're less likely to lose them en-masse).

Your argument of pricing is a strong one, and I agree with it very much so - Steam sales are a prime example of digital distribution allowing the sales of games for stupidly low prices since manufacturing costs are zero, and distribution costs are minimal. (However, Steam isn't guaranteed to be around forever, though I think it's unlikely they'll go anywhere in a hurry). On the flipside, digital distribution means that pricing can be easily controlled by the distribution service and there isn't a lot one can do about it if the distribution model has regional differences - for example (I know we're not the only ones) in Australia we'll pay $90 AUD for a brand new PC game on Steam, whereas I can order a physical copy from overseas for half the price. I'm sure this is even worse on systems where the digital store has no competition.

In the end, I think we're at a point where there both physical and digital collections have advantages and disadvantages, and to my mind there isn't currently a clear winner. I still tend towards retail copies, generally because I feel they have greater longevity (I stay away from games that require online activation/online services) and partly out of a sense of tradition. I can certainly see that digital libraries are more convenient and CAN be cheaper, but I don't think it's a clear cut thing.

P.S. - have you tried replacing the battery on your Earthbound cart? If that's truly all that's wrong, you shouldn't be "out a $300 cartridge".



Henmii said:

Quite simply: The only games we gamers will have boxed on a shelf in the future (and will always stay in our possesion) are Mario games, sports games, licensed games, casual games, and gore-fests! All the REALLY INTERESTING (and artistic) stuff will be download-only! It's terrible, if you think about it!!



ogo79 said:

you can put a new battery in the earthbound cart.
ive got 2 carts and 2 new batteries myself. theres no reason for you to feel your game went to waste...



russellohh said:

With my soldering skills, it would likely end with burned fingertips and a fire extinguisher. I sold my Earthbound copy for $60 a few years back, with the description "battery needs replacing. I have no idea how to do that..."

Someone wrote to me and said "you know if you found a copy in working condition i bet you could sell it for more!"

me: shi#@%@#%@%



russellohh said:

@Henmii No its not. I have the downloads for call of duty, all the marios, laytons, etc. $10 for the download or $50 for the disk, hummm



StarDust4Ever said:

Crap, I missed the deadline. Oh well. Basically, Old software will simply vanish without a trace. Hardware won't work without a server to connect to, so it will just get binned or recycled. CD and cartridge games will become more collectable over time. BTW, CD systems will not likely have the longevity that cart systems do, so 6th & 7th gen systems will have a hard time. And Game Cube appears to be the most durable 6th gen console IMO. The flash memory and hard drives used in modern consoles will eventually go bad, just like floppies from the old 80s computers did, and people will simply stop playing those systems. Yet I've got an Atari that's over 30 years old, still works, and will probably last another 30 years if I'm still around to play it. I seriously doubt a Wii will last that long. My Wii's already got memory issues, and I was extremely lucky to have been able to transfer all my downloads to Wii-U. I genuinely feel for people who couldn't make the transfer.



Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

>>; So does that mean the games on the Wii shop can't be bought any longer? Cause I could really care less about the other channels save for the Nintendo and internet channel.



Onion said:

For the people who are (like me) sometimes facing the issues involved with physical carts, the Save Battery issue is easily resolved by sending the game in for repair to an online shop or local shop. I send any dead batteries to a local place called the NIntendo Repair shop. They swap in a brand new battery for around 5 or 10 dollars and since batteries these days last longer, you won't have to worry about changing it for at least 20 years.

It is sadly one of the issues collectors like me face. It's the price you pay for buying the physical hardware and one of the arguments I made in favor of digital copies. I will always prefer physical copies of course, but there's no denying the usefulness of digitals.



Windy said:

Is there really a collection when you download a game? I wouldn't think so. Even though I do download Eshop Titles, it feels like Paying for Air.



AngryTaxman said:


"We're getting to the point where disc-based media is going to be the biggest bottleneck preventing consoles from running games to their maximum potential. Digital is the future"

Guess this is true, but I don't know what we'll want as gamers when we get older. Will we want something to show and something to fill up space?! There is something lame about a virtual catalogue



Slayer said:

I think my two biggest losses are Nintendo Channel and Flipnote Hatena. Oh do I miss those two...

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