News Article

Your View: The Issues of Collecting and Owning Download-Only Games

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Downloads aren't forever

At the start of this week we posted a talking point on the questionable collectibility of download-only game libraries, an issue that's yet to come to a head on Nintendo systems. So far its debut download-only platforms, the Wii Shop and DSiWare, have been available in the company's current systems. The approaches have been different, however, with the DSiWare library being almost complete on the 3DS eShop, while the Wii Shop is an entirely separate entity as part of the Wii U's "Wii Mode", rather than being integrated with the equivalent eShop. Either way, these game libraries are still alive and kicking, but it's unknown and unresolved what will happen in the next system generations — will these games be available to download or purchase on current or future systems 5-10 years from now, or will their store-fronts be closed and the content lost to the past? What if we have a functional Wii U 10 years from now, but we can't download an eShop game because the store is no longer live?

All big questions, and we set up a specific forum thread for you to have your say. That thread was for the specific purpose of getting your views on the issue, and a number of you posted your thoughts. We haven't been able to include every post, but have selected a mix that cover some of the interesting discussion that took place.

Some of these posts have been produced as excerpts, and some minor proofreading has also been applied without distorting or affecting the overall post; you can check out the originals in the link above. Without further ado, this is what some members of the Nintendo Life community thought when posed with the following question.

With download stores and online platforms far from permanent, do you worry about losing access to download-only games in the coming years? Do you think Nintendo should offer routes around this, or is the eventual disappearance of download-only games just an inevitable "part of the deal"?


I suppose it depends on how far along a service will go before Nintendo decides not to sell its games anymore. DSiWare and WiiWare are still available on the Wii U and 3DS, and even the next gen platforms may still support the transfer of these games. Further along the line - who's to say we'll still want to play the games? From the lifetime of DSiWare's existence I've personally only found maybe 5 titles interesting enough to want to play in the future. It seems like this will be much more of an issue once (whenever it finally happens) console games go fully digital.

... PC Gamers have been playing largely digital-only for years though, and all we get is sale after sale. Seeing as you can get 75% off most games on Steam during the Summer sale, I'm kind of just waiting for console gaming to move past the awkward digital-only introduction so we can get to the actual benefits. Once 3DS digital retail games start getting significant sales I'll probably stop buying physical altogether.


I do worry about download-only games in general, especially with the Xbox One and PS4 being incompatible with PSN and Xbox Live games of the last generation. It is very good that the Wii U and 3DS offer a way to transfer games from previous consoles, and that is an advantage Nintendo has over Sony and Microsoft.

However, with advances in technology and the business side, it is a very big possibility that we will lose access to downloadable titles from previous generations. I highly doubt the next Nintendo console will have a Wii built into it like the Wii U, and its only a matter of time until the Wii Shop Channel closes. Even with an account system, eventually we will lose access to those games due to the cost of Nintendo and the publishers to keep them up there. If there are ways to keep access to our games, great, but unfortunately it is a big chance of losing access to our games, and that's just the way downloads work.


Yeah, this is a problem with digital, and nobody knows what will happen. The industry would simply love to resell the same digital titles over and over again. It has a hint of planned obsolescence to it all.


I always prefer to buy physical vs digital. There is no guarantee that you'll be able to keep the digital or physical version "forever". However with a physical copy I have more control over the longevity of my purchases. I do buy digital games but only those that are available as digital only. I'm not convinced that 30 years from now we'll be able to play our digital games like we're able to play our first edition copies of Super Mario Bros. on NES.


I'm hoping Nintendo allows all consoles to access the same store, but only download games that can be run on the system. Maybe a bit like Steam, where you access them from a variety of your devices (multiple PCs, macs, etc.) but they can only be downloaded if the system can play it. Now, I doubt this will ever happen, but I can dream right?

Or maybe "burnable" discs that allow me 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.


Big N could handle it kinda like Amazon does it these days regarding their physical audio discs. If physical media is being bought and registered, a free download will be available as well. So you can put your game onto your shelf, and enjoy playing the download version. That'll be gamer's paradise!


In the specific case of video games, what people can purchase nowadays from a digital store is just a license to use a given downloaded software. One approach the industry could take is to have a proper EULA (End User License Agreement) in place, where customers can clearly know that they can access and use their software until any given date, and where it's specified which online services will/could be used and their respective minimum support dates. It also opens the possibility of software revocations or extensions: What's great about software is that it can change easily with rare cases of it being impeded by the hardware, so Nintendo could implement time limited, account based licenses on their software and support them on any future console (Something like a universal virtual console, where the license fees cover the server maintenance costs and make VC online play possible).

One more possible support route: Many indie titles have releases in more than one platform. The approach could be the same as above: Pay to have access to the software from this server, purchase a license for using it a given amount of times or a set interval of time, or something else, with the right EULA present at all times. I agree with Microsoft when they say digital must progress, but not to the money-centric, software-killing extent they took originally with the Xbox One. That's downright extreme.

This point could be extended. What will happen when these games' copyrights expire? What's more, how we can play Wii and 3DS games when their hardware is so unique? That's where the hardware invariably jumps in. Antiques are always a collector's item, anyway.


This ground HAS already been broken, actually. Although relatively few people are aware, the Xbox Live Arcade actually started on the original Xbox, and all of those games are already gone forever. Most of them are available on 360 instead, but I don't think Microsoft gave owners of the Xbox versions any free copies. Then you have the PSP Comics store...Sony took that down months ago. To be fair, they gave people advanced warning about it and since PSP data can be backed up on PC, anyone who wanted to had the ability to back up their entire libraries...something that isn't an option for consoles. But again, the PSP Comics store wasn't all THAT popular, and there wasn't much outcry when it happened.

So yes, these issues have come up before, but very small-scale. One thing I know for sure is that whichever company tries a large-scale shutdown first is going to be up against a MASSIVE backlash much like what Microsoft has been dealing with since the Xbox One reveal. It's anybody's guess when that'll happen and who will be to blame...I think it'll be Microsoft, ironically further proving how bad their always-online policy was!


I have to admit this is one main con I have when it comes to digital games. As a collector of games I like to have my games for years. Now I know some of you will say oh but cartridges don't last forever but really it depends on the owner. I for one take care of my stuff I still have a lot of my NES cartridges and SNES cartridges in fact thats how I avoided paying such a high price for Earthbound but thats a story for another day. Many of them still work just fine and I know that if I want to play say Earthbound in a few years all I have to do is fire up my SNES and I am good to go. Now with Earthbound coming to the Wii U what happens if say Nintendo goes out of business in a few years? Will I be able to play it on my Wii U? Sure but what happens if my Wii U blows up or the game gets erased from the hard drive?

Now I know that if something were to happen to my cartridge I could always jump on ebay or some other site and pick another one granted I will probably be paying alot but I know I can still get one even if the company goes out of business. With digital I may not be as lucky.


The big thing that NOBODY is talking about is the problem that plagues all of us parents out there who game with their kids --- having to buy the SAME GAME four times! That is my problem with Download Only. Want to buy that new eShop only game? Kids want to play too? Either buy multiple times or share your 3DS. Animal Crossing cost me $105 for three copies. Thank goodness my son can't read yet.


Download-only is a double edge sword for most customers especially if they don't know how to use the Internet, eshop, and/or have Internet for the system; but it a good thing for publishers/ developers since it lowers the cost and risk of localizing. This increase the chances of not just the game release in different regions but also being created in general. Plus it's more Eco friendly.


Download-only biggest issue is our digital collections going "Poof" in the future and is indeed a serious one. Many gamers here have expend a lot of money on theirs. The only idea that I can think could work is the ever mentioned account locked collection that should, more than anything, remind the company of what you have paid for and it should be permanent somehow, either by severs transfer or by keeping a copy on your consoles. Nintendo is in a severe need of this, and with the introduction of its own Network, I see it coming soon. This kind of account should assure even if a new console can't (either because of incompatibility or legality) play a game, Nintendo would still acknowledge that that game is yours and you may be able to play it in the future after the problem is solved, or get some small compensation for the lost.

I'm really curious at what Sony would do about PSN collections of games far in the future when they pull the plug on PS3 services, what with the PS4 not playing PS3 games. If enough users keep logging in, would Sony keep it going indefinitely? Would they simply give some free PS4 games away, and act as if those PS3 collections never existed? Maybe recode all the games using the cloud so you can play them again?... Yeah sure. Recode some and ask you to pay for the update?

Some interesting points were certainly made, such as ideas for a "license" system to evolve how downloads work, the option to physically backup content — perhaps to proprietary media sold by Nintendo to avoid unauthorised piracy? — and potential comparisons to Steam services. It should be noted that, in terms of some of the concerns raised, there is record of what games have been bought not just on the hardware, but through Club Nintendo accounts also recording download purchases, assuming that account is linked to the online store. Nintendo also states that its customer services will help those in need retrieve their content, though an account system in line with that on other systems would be welcome.

Even with those ideas in mind, there are still big question marks over what will happen to download-only libraries, and their availability, in future years. Let us know what you think of this issue, and the community ideas from above, below.

From the web

User Comments (95)



BlackStar9000 said:

Never really put much thought into this....but I doubt it will be a big issue considering Nintendo is improving its services for downloadable games like being able to transfer and store game saves...something that sony has been doing since the first psp.



Einherjar said:

As long as developers realize that "backwards compatibility" is pretty important and they integrate older eShops into newer systems (shouldnt be that big of a problem if you take care of it early on), availability isnt that big of a problem.
I get DL only games only, if there is absolutely no other chance of if i can safe a truckload of money.



rjejr said:

Nice selection of replies, made me glad I never bothered to read the complete thread

Though I think if you change the title word "owning" to "renting" it brings further clarity to the discussion. Its very difficult to own "digital". Though OTOH you actually own digital more than material b/c you are stuck w/ it, you cant trade sell or lend it.

Digital, its the worst of both worlds.



Peach64 said:

All 3 consoles have a long way to go, but digital is the future. I have over 50 games on steam, and I'm pretty sure none of them cost me even £4. Being able to log onto any computer and having my entire collection right there is well worth giving up material things like boxes and print manuals for, just as we went with music.

Nintendo seems the further behind to me, with ridiculous prices and the huge problem of purchases being tied to a single machine. I only bought a PS3 last week, but already the Vita seems like a good purchase just for being able to play all those PSOne Classics on it. How good would it be if Nintendo let us play our Wii/Wii U VC titles on the 3DS?



element187 said:

By the time we get to a point where Nintendo might shut off the servers there will be products that will allow you to back up and play your games whether boxed retail or download... I'm going all download when it comes to first party and I'm not worried.

I'm going to test whether I can back up my downloads on my ext drive to my PC, then format drive, copy data back to HD and see if my Wii U recognizes it.

If it works I'm not going to care what Ninty does with the servers.



Cotton said:

To me the digital downloads are helping out the collectible physical game market because once everything is digital the rarity of physical copies would go up therefore the price would go up. But on the other hand once all of the physical copies are gone completely there would be no way to sell them



Fingeldor said:

The rules of 'inevitable obsolescence' concerning digital titles we own have to change. Consumers cannot (and should not) be forever expected to relinquish access to their purchased content because publishers decide it's no longer meaningful to carry them after a particular date. Archiving is relatively cheap and a system that allows older consoles to access their content is not only possible, any alternative is unacceptable to me. We need the additional support of media (such as Nintendo Life) to push the issue as they are doing now but also stand on the side against expired content. I think the entire concept of digital content appeals not only because of its delivery mechanisms but so too should it be infinitely accessible for the consumers whose cheap media storage decays or becomes damaged. It's the responsibility of all interested parties to say NO to expired digital content.



Morpheel said:

This reminded me of the PSP comic I downloaded a long time ago... I never found out how to read it at all!



Windy said:

I think we are just a couple years away from download only. Once that happens games you download won't be worth squat. You might be able to get a little more for a system you own but your not getting back what you paid in. I'm not really a game collector but there have been times that a game library I owned helped upgrade me to a newer system with trade ins or selling my stuff on ebay. I will miss having a cartridge Though. I prefer having a cartridge or CDrom with a game book and case. Its also been nice not to have to look for a game and just have it sitting on the system when im being lazy. So im a bit on the Fence about this whole thing. One thing is for sure Download only is coming



Bigmac1910 said:

This is one of the reason smartphones and tablets are winning. In iTunes you can backup your purchases and then share that library with up to 10 devices (iOS) if i remember correctly. So it's very family friendly, on top of that they are not nearly as expensive as 3DS games. Until Console manufacturers will do something similar with digital media, they will start to lose a bit this next generation I think, especially if the gamepads will take off when introduced in iOS 7.



Adam said:

Shutting down a service does not mean someone coming to your house and deleting your games. They are just as forever as my disc games except they are more conveniently stored, arrive faster, and don't scratch or get lost.

I don't get the paranoia associated with downloads. It sounds like the age old fear of change.



dizzy_boy said:

Once nintendo start shutting down their eshops, I'll just keep the consoles that I've downloaded my games on.



HAL9000 said:

Nintendo downloads will still work without the internet. So if they "pull the plug" on online services, you can still play your games on your system.

On other hand, downloaded xbox 360 arcade games will NOT work if you do not have an internet connection. They only function in demo mode.



ogo79 said:

oh dont worry Tasuki, you can always purchase one of my infinite earthbound carts from my mother/earthbound surplus store should that happen.
boxes, guides, a wooden ninten, a plush ness. buy 3 complete in box earthbound games and get a free brand new mother 3 fan guide! paperback or hardback your choice!



dadajo said:

The fact of the digital games even having a chance of being lost always worries me. I always personally get a physical copy unless the downloadable one is tons cheaper.
EDIT- Also it would be nice if I could keep my downloads regardless of what I use (similar to itunes) once i lose my 3ds that is it.



Kirk said:

I think these are the kinds of questions manufactures like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft really need to be addressing because they are important.

If I purchase a download only title I want to own it for my lifetime, just like I could a physical copy of a game, and as long as I have a compatible console to play it on I should be able to play it.

As far I as I'm concerned I should also be able to trade it in for some cash-back or give it to my friends too, and whatever else, just like I can with a physical copy of a game.

I really hope these digital download stores don't turn into basically time limited rental/streaming services, unless of course they are advertised and intended as such and therefor the games are FAR FAR cheaper in general.



ogo79 said:

you want to trade in a game you downloaded?
downloaded games would disappear even quicker and be even more of a concern than they are in this topic now



FullbringIchigo said:

that's one of the reasons i don't like digital downloads, but as the industry changes towards a digital future these questions will become more relevant

also the fact that digital versions seem to cost more than physical most of the time when it shouldn't because there is no cost of manufacture and shipping to cover

they should be at least £20 cheaper than the physical copy

and also let's not get into HDD storage space

also all the company's (Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft) need to offer some kind of refund system for DD games too like say you can claim a refund up to one hour after purchase just in case you brought it by accident



Shambo said:

I'm a collector, and I'm proud of my collection of games and other things. I buy my games not only to play or to support, but to collect. It is -to me- a very important aspect. If download it must be in order to play, then download it is, but I won't feel bad about not doing it the proper way. I'd be sorry, really, but it's a matter of give and take. And they take away what I equally love about this hobby, equal to actually playing great games: finding and owning them.

Tracking down rare gems from the past; going to a gameshop and while taking your new boxed game out of the shelf, finding another one in the bargain bin or used games department,... It's part of gaming's biggest charm to me.



Kirk said:


In some form, yup.

In the same way I can trade in a physical game for some money back, I want to be able to do the same with my digital games.



JaxonH said:

This issue is really getting more attention than it deserves. Sure, you can play physical copies forever, but you need to have the original console to do so, or the following generation's console if it's backwards compatible. So if I own F-Zero GX, I need to own a Gamecube or backwards compatible Wii. And that's the only way I'll ever be able to play that disc, now or 20 years from now. The same applies for digital- if I buy Super Mario World on the Wii VC, I can play it forever, JUST LIKE PHYSICAL DISCS, but I need the original console to do so, or the backwards compatible Wii U and transfer it over. Once a digital game is bought, it's yours forever. People act like they can't play their VC games once they're taken off the shop, but they can! Granted, you may need to keep your Wii to play said digital game purchased off Wiishop, but how is that any different from needing to keep your Wii to play your physical copy of Skyward Sword?



JaxonH said:

@Kirk Don't think time restraints will ever be an issue. Just like a physical disc, if you buy a digital game it's yours forever. Just like a physical disc, you'll need the original console it was released for to play it (or the next generation's backwards compatible console if applicable). And just like a physical disc, the storefront will sell those games for X amount of time, and when the next generation comes, those games won't be offered anymore, so buy em while they're on the menu (the ONLY difference being that physical discs can still be bought down the line in the secondhand market as used games, but that's the advantage to buying physical- digital has its own advantages)



banacheck said:

When people say PC Gamers have been playing largely digital-only for years though, what people don't point out is thay can still buy physical disc games. If you look at the movie & music industry thay haven't gone digital only, when thay easily could. I think digital only products is a lot longer away than people think, Microsoft had to drop there DRM otherwise it ment losing big $$$, not because thay listened.



JaxonH said:

@Windy I don't necessarily agree with that assessment. I know everyone keeps saying digital-only games are coming, and it's just a matter of time, but I disagree. It's kind of like when everyone thought 3D HDTVs would take over, and it was just a matter of time, but that never happened. Sure, it grabbed SOME of the market share, but there were too many people who didn't see the appeal. Same for digital-games. They'll continue to grow too but eventually they'll reach critical mass, because there are just too many people who don't see the appeal or insist on buying physical. Collectors won't buy into digital. Frugal consumers who like to resell games after completion won't buy into digital. Folks who never go online or even know about the eShop won't buy into digital (and that's at least 1/3 of all Nintendo console owners). And there are some who simply don't like the idea, for whatever reason. Not to mention retailers will push back against digital as well, and companies like Nintendo DEPEND on retail presence to advertise their products. Digital will increase with time, but it will never take over the market.



ajcismo said:

Honestly, I don't see this as much of an issue as most other people. Been dealing with systems only playing the games that were designed for it for decades.
The only way that will ever really change is if all games went to a universal format like mp3. That has about as much chance of happening as monkeys flying out of my...



Slapshot said:

@Adam Not exactly Adam. Say that your 3DS breaks 15 years from now and the 3DS eShop no longer exist - your games are from that point forward, gone forever, unless Nintendo has a service - like the PlayStation Network or Apple's iOS Marketplace - where the downloads are account-based, allowing you to re-download past purchases on newer consoles.

If Nintendo discontinues DSiWare or WiiWare any time soon, those system have the games locked onto them and if/when that console dies, your games can no longer be retrieved.

Only games that can be backed up to third party storage without DRM can be considered to be "permanent." This is why I've spoken out publicly many times here at NL in Round Tables in the past about Nintendo's decision to lock games to consoles.



yttrium13 said:

"... PC Gamers have been playing largely digital-only for years though, and all we get is sale after sale. Seeing as you can get 75% off most games on Steam during the Summer sale, I'm kind of just waiting for console gaming to move past the awkward digital-only introduction so we can get to the actual benefits."

Steam has other digital services to compete with such as GOG and GamersGate. None of them are as big, but they still get a lot of customers. This is one of the things that drives the big sales - Valve (and GOG or the others, they do sales too) want people to buy from their platform instead of a competitor's.

For the forseeable future, consoles would only have one digital shop, so it is unlikely the prices for console games would go anywhere near as low if they went digital-only. Sales would be smaller and less frequent.



Adam said:

Account-based or not, I have already re-downloaded my past purchases on a newer console. The Wii U already does this, as does the 3DS.

Back-ups would be nice, but they don't have an official system for backing up discs either, so this is not a problem unique to downloads. I haven't had a broken Nintendo console yet and have been with them since the NES, and yet games do go bad.

So again, in every respect, digital downloads are on par as far as permanence goes, and really are likely to last longer in many cases where you may have kids mishandling discs or misplacing them.



ajcismo said:

I was thinking the same thing about mishandling discs, etc... I'm sure we've all seen that one friend, or used to do it ourselves, who has discs out of their cases, laying around, and eventually the game stops working. Or food near a console/handheld. Who hasn't spilled one soda on a controller in their lifetime? There is something to be said about taking care of gear.



miiandmario said:

Although the shops will go down your games won't be deleted and you'll still have your previously purchased games. It's not a big issue for me.



sinalefa said:

I don't believe in digital only. We can still buy vinyl records, for crying out loud! It may be more convenient to carry all of your music in an ipod, but for people who take it seriously, that just won't cut it. Same with books, games, or anything else that can be collected.

Of course developers want to go all digital as they are the only ones who could set prices and the fact that you cannot sell/rent/borrow digital copies means that everyone interested must own a copy. If you unwillingly or unknowingly break their Terms and Conditions, they can block your account and then you lose all of your games.



miletich3 said:

I thought you could play all Wii VC games and WiiWare games on the Wii U console respectively. Now I see the flaws of backwards compatibilities.



SCAR said:

Ya, it's not a problem for me, really.
There are definitely improvements to be made. Data back-up is probably more important than an account system. Technically, Nintendo already has an account system, but it's not fully implemented, which suggests that we don't have the whole shibang.

3DS to Wii U connectivity is basically confirmed and the VC is speading out to both of those consoles. I wouldn't mind playing some multiplayer GBA games on a 3DS with other players on 3DS systems, or the Wii U(GBA VC confirmed). They aren't going to create a full out account without all of their devices there.

There's more ways to have and manage an account than what people are already doing. I know exactly how Nintendo could have a better account system than Sony and Apple combined.

Internet networks are important, but that's a small part of what I think Nintendo is trying to do.



RightHemisphereG said:

@Skywardlink98 You have hit the make that is what I'd prefer and like my download games to be handled on nintendo system's. With the WiiU and the Nintendo Network Id's being successful. Nintendo has there large install-base connected to the internet like they wanted. should let those with "N-net Id's" to link there games library to there Id's so that we can accesses are games and play them on the Nintendo while also being able to share are progrese by with save file accesses, that can be saved on the Net-work as well by Id's holder.
I would like to see that the right minded people at Nintendo how are offering-up these ideas as-well start being used, players are ready and will use this.



Dpishere said:

I must admit, I am quite worried about the possibility of not being able to purchase certain games in the future. I don't have as much time as I want to play and purchase all of the games I want, and the possibility of missing out on great games for the sole reason being that I cannot purchase them anymore does have me concerned. I guess this is just one of the downsides of being digital-only games. Unlike PC's, dedicated games consoles cannot play nearly every game indefinitely, and I don't see this changing anytime soon.



8bitforever said:

@Bigmac1910 That is a good point. Sony does allow this with the VITA too though. You can backup all of your saves and full games to your PC or PS3 hardrive. Honestly, this is the only reason I won't download from the e-shop. If Nintendo won't allow me to backup my purchases then I won't support it. It was the main reason for my even buying my VITA. I know they are allowing saves to be backed up but they are way behind as usual. I really don't think they will ever allow a full backup. Just like they won't remove region locking.



Bigmac1910 said:

"The games on iOS are also not nearly as good as on the 3DS. Just saying."

That is mostly correct, but for my daughter who also loves Peppa Pig apart from Mario etc. an iOS device will do just fine, and this is what Nintendo has to fight against.



b23cdq said:

The day I can no longer get games physically is the day I switch to pc and start pirating.

Some people talk like music has gone all digital, but I still buy CDs, because I prefer physical.

I will accept digital only when I can hook my brain directly to the internet. Until then,



Discostew said:

I don't really buy that "it goes poof" scenario, other than in the instance the entire internet goes out. I would say if that happens, the chances of power going out as well would be high too, so the likelihood of being able to play video games in general would be gone.

The thing with physical copies is that they have to print more when supplies run low, but then stop printing when sales get low and they have moved on from that system. Digital downloads really only requires server space to hold them, which require far less money to retain and far less resources and production hours to make available to the world, not just now, but in the future as well.



Bulbousaur said:

I don't see the argument that if you buy digital, it's yours forever, as long as the console works, simply because current consoles are far less reliable than back in the 90s. Some of the first NESs manufactured have survived almost 30 years, but now consoles break all the time. Who knows how long Wii U and 3DS consoles will last before breaking?

Also, thanks for uploading my comment



FordGuy said:

what happens if your 3ds is reset? do you lose all of your download game (ie animal crossing) progress because it cannot be backed up? if so, that is a MAJOR issue w/ download games



scrubbyscum999 said:

My systems seem to be very tough, they may work slower sometimes but Im sure they will last a long time. This is why avoid digital if I can though, with physical you know it's going to be there. I'm also the collector type so I like having he boxes and what not. I like vinyl records and a audiophile record player. Obviously I mainly buy vinyl because of the analog sound and it sounds better (especially the 180 gram records they sell nowadays. However, another reason is that records last pretty much forever if you don't put your hands on the surface and store em right. I like being able to hold something and KNOW its going to be there. I don't like the lack of solid assurance with something like mp3. Digital has its place, I buy a LOT of digital titles but physical should be an option. I mean, the game boxes, Disks, and cards aren't that big anyway.



Drobotic said:

I just hope for Cloud gaming.Like having all your data for your games on your 3DS and Wii U on a single Nintendo Network account.



Bass_X0 said:

I've been downloading games since 2006 and have not lost any yet. My 3DS did break and had to be sent to be repaired but all my downloaded games stayed on my 3DS without any issue when it was returned.

While I will download VC games even if the cartridge is cheaper or if I already own the game on cartridge, I won't download retail games if I can get the carridge for cheaper. I just paid £24 for Project X Zone on whereas the download version is £28. However, I won't mind downloading Dual Destinies since it will only be available as a download.



Neram said:

I just wrote up an elaborate response to this article, saying that I'm sticking to physical collecting of classic games instead of Virtual Console, because of being a bit disgruntled about having to pay more for the Wii U Virtual Console games that I already have...

But I deleted it and changed my mind. I just looked on eBay for Mega Man X and it's going for anywhere from $40 to $60 for a copy.

I'll stick to my $9.50 for the Wii U Virtual Console version, thanks.



renaryuugufan92 said:

its a risk but i think i'll still get Nintendo's first party games digitally, and some third party games~ ((ones i know i'll like and probably won't want to re-sell))



FineLerv said:

Tried to stick my N64 cart in my Wii U the other day. For some reason it didn't work...

Hey. Listen. If you're worried about Wii U games not being able to transfer to the Wii U2, just acknowledge that you may have to keep your Wii U. All the servers could shut down tomorrow and you'll still be ba able to play every digital game you own. It's not "renting". You aren't "borrowing" anything. You bought your games with a one-off payment and you own them.

Shelves full if games, books, CDs, DVDs, photo albums are all on their way out. Say "no" to landfill.



FineLerv said:

@Neram Download all your Wii VC games to an SD card and you'll be able to play them forever in the exact same state you bought them in a long as you own your Wii U. That's a guarantee. The server may shut down but you'll still have your entire collection on an SD card.



Tryken said:

For those of you who are long time MMO players, you might feel similarly as cynical as myself. I remember when the thought of an MMORPG closing its doors couldn't possibly happen. Ultima Online, Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Asheron's Call--these games just kept on coming that people bought and never saw an end in sight.

Then came Asheron's Call 2 shutting its doors in 2005. That was a shocker. Before this, people always assumed that when you bought an MMO it'd stay up forever. Online gaming and MMOs were still in a growing period, then suddenly this sobering moment hit everyone. I remember being on forums where the question got brought up, "Is this how it's going to start going? We buy a game and the servers get shut down later and bam, our purchase is nullified." The answer to that was yes. It started happening. Star Wars Galaxies shut its doors, and even City of Heroes--despite massive outcries from fans--powered down their servers. All of a sudden, it became painfully clear that we were buying a product with an unknown lifespan.

What does this have to do with digital sales? I think it's foreshadows what we're going to see in the future. Eventually, those services will be shut down when they become particularly unprofitable and are low enough in consumer usage. When they are, that's it. For Nintendo products where it's tied to your console, you'll most likely have the game as long as you don't delete it from your harddrive. As for 360 and PS3 where it's tied to an account--well, I don't know.

But never forget that when you buy something which, at any point, requires an online server (whether it be to download it, play it, verify it, etc.), you're buying something with an unknown and limited lifespan, as that product is still at the will (and the cost) of the company, and will be terminated once it's too far in the red.



Windy said:

@JaxonH I hope your right. I don't want the gaming market to ever go 100% digital it nice to get new shiny's in the mail or at the store



Dormouse said:

I like having a physical copy of the game. I only download games if they are download only titles that can't be sold in physical form. I once downloaded 10G of music from iTunes and backed it up on an external drive but lost it all in a move. When my computer broke shortly after I was out all that music I paid for over the years.
This was my only problem with going digital. Its just nicer having a physical collection to me. Sorta like a bookshelf or or DVD case. But perhaps later i will make the switch once it becomes even more the norm.



Cyberbotv2 said:

Those were some interesting reader comments. I own a PS3 and after a few years of using PS Plus, find myself disappointed. Many times, if I try downloading a new game from the store, I have to delete some other games to make space on the hard-drive. Problem is, I can't get to all the free games they have to offer, so I set it to download when I can get to it. What happens when the PS3 discontinues? There's no way to transfer to the PS4. Right now, my backlog of games extend to the Gamecube, and I might not get to some of these free PS Plus games for at least a few years. I'm 100% against digital. There will never be a guarantee you'll have this stuff to play with your kids one day.Until they figure that out, I'm going to hide out in the N64 and Gamecube generations.



Northrnpikefish said:

Nintendo is the best video game company. No other company can say "we still sell 30 year old games and people buy them." Even when the eshop is finished, I will have my games. I prefer hard copies, but why pay 20 bucks for a contra game, when you can pay 5? These games won't be downloadable in 10 years, and online support will be gone. But I can still fire up my good ol' 3ds and play my downloaded games. Sure, it'll suck that I can't play mario kart 7 online, but the main games will still be on my systems, and that's what matters. Digital is cheaper, but there's nothing like a good ol' NES cartridge that needs a good blow.



Cyberbotv2 said:

@JaxonH : On your original post, you are absolutely correct. Nintendo in a way has safeguarded this whole situation. I don't like what Sony and Microsoft have coming up with their next consoles, and this is in a way gives Nintendo a heads up with some forward thinking!



crazyj2312 said:

I'd be more enticed to go download only if there were some sort of lucrative features like a bunch of sales.

Nintendo just needs to do more sales in general. They are sticklers for keeping prices the exact same. I know for a fact Mario Kart DS was at full retail price of $35 the entire time the DS was out. That's insane. The excuse about not wanting consumers to feel like the product is worth less is understandable but games do depreciate in value really quickly over time and 2 years down the line you can't expect it to rake in the same hype for the same price.

They can capitalize by slowing down production past a certain point then putting the game on the eshop for a modest sale price. That way they don't have to keep new, full retail cartridges pumping and can monetize on their out of print stuff. Like if they just stopped printing 3D Land and made the price 24.99 on the eshop



FineLerv said:

@crazyj2312 Yeah, the pricing is my biggest complaint. It doesn't stop me from buying digital but I do tend to rely heavily on sales and discounts. I've bought every Wii U Indie game whenever they were on sale and have yet to regret a single purchase. My big regret was not picking up Assassin's Creed digitally when it was on sale.



einstein95 said:

Having lost a few songs I bought via iTunes before they went DRM-free and cloud backups, I know what it's like to lose stuff that you legally own. Now, I'm not saying "All is good with piracy" or "Piracy is the solution to all", but this is where piracy can help. Sure, it's illegal, and yeah sure, it's keeping money away from the developers and Nintendo, but yeah. It's an option for the future.



DrRandle said:

I've had discs break and scratch, and batteries on carts die. Goodbye forever my pokemon Red pokemon. However, digital stuff can still be picked up if you have the license, still.



DarkNinja9 said:

what i hate about digital to me is the whole needing a credit card to add funs then buying the game now while that seems ok with the whole gift card at times the prices of the game is annoying that you need like 2 gift cards to get one game

another thing to me is worrying that one day the date might erase everything and no way to get those digitals back or yeah a few years from now the stuff being gone and with the physical you can keep and share the games to others



elreins said:

@Slapshot Not to make a long conversation out of this but the games are actually tied to your nintendo eshop account (which is associated with one console at the time) If for any reason you loose your console or break it, as long as you know your serial number (for the broken unit and the replacement one) you can ask nintendo Service to "transfer" your eshop account to the new console.

I do not know what will happen in 15 years... Nintendo will have it figured by then.




Zodiak13 said:

Boy I must be either getting old or I just stopped worrying over rhis kind of thing. In the end they are just things and really nothing changes if they dissapear. I collect comics and a few months ago 24long boxes of mine were stolen from my shed. They took just what they could get to 1st. I was mad and upset, but I haven't even thought about it until today reading all these comments. I have both types of games, and no matter what something can/will happen to some of them at some point. Seems like a lot of worry over stuff that really isn't that important. Don't get me wrong I enjoy having all my stuff, and I have way to much of it, but worrying about things like this take away from my enjoyment of them.

Ask me a question like this 3 years ago and boy would my feelings be different. All I hope for is that great games keep being made and that Nintendo is still around to make some of them for me to play. Either format will do!



Metal_Slugger said:

Disc's don't last forever either. Its possible a download could last longer in the event someone scratched a disc or damaged it. So yeah ups and downs either way. I think the old cartridges are a more sound investment if your a collector. Older and better IMO.



FineLerv said:

@Slapshot "as long as you know your serial number (for the broken unit and the replacement one) you can ask nintendo Service to "transfer" your eshop account to the new console"

Where abouts is the seriel number? I'm all digital so it might be handy to know



Geonjaha said:

@banacheck - Not for all games though, and we're getting to the point where it serves very little benefit to buy physical copies for PC games. It only serves to reinforce the point that there isn't anything to worry about - physical media will probably still be around in some form for a long time, because people want it. People will choose to go digital themselves when the benefits become significant enough.

@yttrium13 - True, but the fact remains that many people don't buy all three sets of home consoles (Sony, MS, Nintendo) - and that in itself will lead to competition between third party titles as it always has. Besides, with PC gaming taking steps towards being used with the TV (Steam Big Picture) console games will have to start reaching the same level in terms of pricing in order to compete, especially once everything becomes primarily digital.



StarDust4Ever said:

Sigh... Nlife needs to give us more time to respond to these. I missed another great opportunity to have my voice heard...

Last year I picked up an Atari VCS (4-switch) from eBay. With a manufacture date of 1980, it's a year older than I am. I even refurbished the power supply circuit and RF, which breathed new life into the console. I could still possibly be gaming on it another 30 years from now (if I'm still around by then), assuming I can still find a TV that supports RF.

Does anybody actually believe that digital download-only titles will still be available to pick up in a retro games shop 30 years from today? I enjoy indie games as much as the next person, but honestly games were designed with the sole purpose to turn a profit by their creators. All that golden retro stuff that got discontinued should have been forgotten by consumers, but the fact that people still game on systems well into their 20s and 30s is a testament to their quality and longevity. Future generations of digital download only consoles will likely be forgotten and only contribute to the growing piles of discarded e-waste. I hope people enjoy playing the exact same games the previous owner did, because that's all they will have access to. Wii-U will be the last viable retro console for future generations to enjoy, especially if MS and Sony decide at a later date to activate their crippling DRM technology, which for the time being will lie dormant in every Xbox One and PS4 launch console.

I have seen the writing on the wall. Retro gaming will be dead on 8th gen and up game consoles, and piracy will be the only option for playing many, many great games once the systems are made obsolete.



MAB said:

I prefer having all the games downloaded to the WiiU ready to rock at the touch of my stylus. What if your disc drive burns out and your game gets stuck inside while the system chews it to pieces... Thank the heavens I have all those downloaded games on a HDD



Dogpigfish said:

I have kids so download is the only option for me, having had Mario kart and super Mario bros wii broken. You can't fork out $50 for these breaks. Downloads are convenient and fun, but I make sure it's for a game with a long life. My kids are already accustomed to using a harddrive, so expect the next generation to be okay with it. Anything else will be a collector's item.



DarkSplatoonLink said:

I forgot how terrible the North American eShop cards looked. The EU ones are even more bland. Even though we are often neglected down here, it's nice because the Australian eShop cards have the same special Mario and Zelda designs like in Japan! Only $15 & $30 denominations though.



thepitt said:

I avoid purchasing "digital" games, DLC, movies, etc ... like the plauge especially if the content you purchase requires an Internet connection to a particular server/service to use/view/play. If the servers/service goes down or you lose Internet connectivity you're screwed. If your content doesn't require an "always on" Internet connection then what happens years down the road when your [insert console name here] stops working and you can't get it replaced?

Nope, digital content sucks.



SetupDisk said:

I am downloading all of my games lately but there is the fact that eventually a hard drive can crash. If the service isn't up anymore to redownload the games you will be crap out of luck. At least you can transfer your HD storage to another external HD on Wii U if you see signs of your HD starting to fail. But sometimes they just die.



AmazonianBeauty said:

I much prefer Physical Copies of games and always have done, though i find having a 2nd copy of a game for multiplayer gaming (Mario Kart 7 for example) is quite handy.
So far i've bought a few games from the eShop but i do plan to buy physical copies as i've always felt owning a Digital copy just left me a feeling of emptiness, don't know if i'm the only one with this view.



DefHalan said:

The reason why Digital works on PC so well is because after 15 or 20 years all those games still work on a PC. This is why the idea of console generations need to disappear. Never again can something like Xbox One or PS4 happen (where all digital games don't carry over). How often are games taken off of Steam? Not often from what I have seen. Why are console makers allowed to discontinue supporting digital games when they move to a new console? How can Steam continue to work on all these different PCs but Console OS only work on that 1 system. This is where Xbox One and PS4 are going to have trouble. People will continue to support their older systems for the digital games and that means less support for their next-gen systems. Where does the problem really lay? You hear these Console Makers talk about making a choice for Backwards compatibility or Power, why not Backwards Compatibility? How many more generations will we put up with losing all of our games for a more powerful system? Maybe this is just a rant.



Rect_Pola said:

I still believe we'll someday have an uber-library where games nobody can be asked to sell will be hosted. If that doesn't happen then their's the idea of another party taking over like GOG and Steam.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Dang, i was too late for that.

I like this kind of feature though since i can't really keep up with the forums.

But alright, straight to the heart of the matter.

I think what @Tasuki said describes the potential problem best.

Let's say it's 2020 and the Wii U as well as the Wii's download shop were discontinued. Your Wii U breaks, so you get a used one and you can't wait to play LostWinds again.

All signs point to you having a problem there now.

You'd have to be able to at least play the game from your SD card. Maybe even to transfer or redownload it some way. If that isn't possible downloading games isn't so enticing imo.

I think WiiWare is in a real troubled situation right now. I'm sure not many customers are willing to enter Wii mode and its uncomfy shop. Quite a few people might not even suspect to find new games in Wii mode. If i didn't know about its games i sure wouldn't.

While it's slightly better with DSiWare it's still not too comfortable with it's inefficient use of the SD card. Still better than no backward-compatibility at all though. And to me even though they're more rigidly priced they don't look out of place too much. (Except for Shantae that is.) I somehow get the feeling WiiWare's prices would look out of place in the Wii U eShop though.

[quote=strenny]I do buy digital games but only those that are available as digital only.[/quit]Same for me atm. It's mostly because right now i set this crazy personal limit of paying no more than 20 bucks for a digital-only game. If i don't like the game's boxart i'd probably bite at that price and could do without having something physical.

Snap wrote:

If physical media is being bought and registered, a free download will be available as well.

I'd totally love that.



Slapshot said:

@elreins And if you sell your console they do nothing, unlike the other companies where you can just re-download your games.



elreins said:

@Slapshot I guess If i were to sell my console and did not want the games anymore, that would be ok. But if i am planning to sell the console and I still want the games. I would have to plan ahead to make sure I have a recipent console to send them to.... nuances.



Mooninaut said:

If console manufacturers have no moral issues in charging full or near-full price for digital "goods" that are not actual goods and are not actually sold, then I have no moral or ethical issues in taking advantage of emulation.



FineLerv said:

@StarDust "I have seen the writing on the wall. Retro gaming will be dead on 8th gen and up game consoles, and piracy will be the only option for playing many, many great games once the systems are made obsolete."

Sadly, I think you may be right. And, I would add that without retro gaming being driven by things such as the Virtual Console, the interest will also slowly die. It's sad to think that my Grandchildren just won't care about Ocarina of Time while they're shooting away on Halo 16.



FineLerv said:

"I prefer having all the games downloaded to the WiiU ready to rock at the touch of my stylus."

The interface made me a believer in the Channel setup. It's a remarkably brilliant convenience. Feel like a quick game of Mario while you're waiting for your friend to log on for a Monster Hunter session? It's all there at your fingertips.



StarDust4Ever said:

"I still believe we'll someday have an uber-library where games nobody can be asked to sell will be hosted."

@Rect_Pola Such a place does exist, but all the pirates who hang out there on a daily basis will be tried for high treason and hanged.



Drawdler said:

"Animal Crossing cost me $105 for three copies."
Ahh, yes, I still remember paying $100 just for a single copy of SMG2...



Marioman64 said:

I wouldn't worry about it. they don't make NES SNES or N64 games anymore, but we can still play them with emulators or VC (when available)
i'd say like 12 years from now they'll be an emulator for eShop stuff give or take, it's how the future works



SyFyTy said:

I have been shouting about the same problem as this regarding the Multiplayer games for DS... once the Servers stop serving, we're screwed. Just try using many of the Muoltiplayer aspects of Dsi games right now and see what you get. NOTHING. and this says nothing of the non compatibility of the friend code nightmare) Those same games purchased NOW, have lowered value [to me] as part of them (the online multiplater) can no longer be used. While companies increase thier multiplayer, they also idecrease YOUR life and use of the game. All those games where you can swap online user created content? Like Mario VS DOnkey Kong? Wario Ware DIY, most already useless. But let someone buy just 1 R4 card...and all hell breaks lose.... It's ok for them, but ot for US? (PS I do NOT support piracy.



Windy said:

The only games i'm downloading are the ones which don't get a retail release. I so hope it never goes fully digital download only. The signs are there that it will at some point. Like it or not the Apple Ipad is wildly popular and i'm afraid that the big 3 might go on the same business model in the future



PekoponTAS said:

I think people are overly concerned. You can keep DSiWare games forever so long as your system doesn't break. Considering the original DS was released 10 years ago and there are still countless of them that work just as well as they did at launch, it shows the DS systems are durable. Even the battery life is a non-issue since the charger doubles as an AC adapter, meaning that you'll never really need to replace a drained battery so long as you have an electrical socket. And even if you wanted to argue that the chargers will all vanish, third party companies will always continue to make replacement adapters for retro game systems, much like they do for NES/Game Boy Micro etc.

By the time a DS system could eventually die, you'll probably be too old to play video games effectively anyways due to your reflexes not being as good as they once were.

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