You, Good Sir, Are Screwed

12 04 2012

Hey, you!  Gamer person!  Do you own a Wii or and a 3DS?  How about a PlayStation 3 and a Vita?  If you do, you’re being screwed.  Yep, I said it- screwed.  You’re taking it up the ol’ wazoo by Nintendo and Sony.  How, you ask?  Allow me to explain.

 

To play this, you had to have this.

 

Back when I was growing up, if you wanted to play an old game you had to hunt down the old system and the game you wanted to play.  If you wanted to play Bonk 3, you had to find a TurboGraphx and a copy of Bonk 3.  If you wanted to play Vectorman, you had to have a Genesis and a copy of the game.  Then, as game companies became more open (or fell apart in the case of Sega) and portable devices became more powerful, you could get an older game as part of a compilation or as a re-release on a handheld system.  Super Mario Brothers was originally released on the NES, then became available on the Game Boy Advance.  Sega Master System games could be re-purchased as Game Gear cartridges.  This was acceptable because it was the only way to get them and take them with you on the go.

Then came a watershed moment in gaming: Nintendo announced the Virtual Console for their Wii system.  Suddenly tons of old games for various systems could be played in one place without having to track them down and pay out the nose.  Sony followed suit offering downloadable PSOne Classic titles, as well as PC Engine (TurboGraphx) and Neo Geo Titles.  While the retro Wii downloads were locked to your system, Sony took it a step further allowing classic games to be transferred to the PSP handheld gaming system, so they could be taken with you.  Everything seemed well and good up to this point; but here’s where things get a little strange…

 

 

Nintendo then released the 3DS system with its own Virtual Console separate from the Virtual Console available on the Wii, and Sony released the Vita with no backwards support whatsoever, except if you live in Japan and are willing to pay them (but it doesn’t extend to their retro games line, only to select PSP titles).  Eventually, they did make Neo Geo and PC Engine downloadable titles available to play; but only after saying that they wouldn’t.

 

Here’s what I’m getting at: in the last year, it’s conceivable that if you own a Wii and a 3DS, and want to play the original Legend of Zelda, you could have purchased it once for the Nintendo Wii through its Virtual Console, and then again through the 3DS and it’s virtual console, even though both systems use the same storage media and access the same network.  Actually, if you want to take it a step further, you could have purchased Zelda on the NES, Super Famicom (if you were in Japan), Game Boy Advance, Game Cube, Wii, and 3DS.  That’s 7 times you had the opportunity to buy the same game.

 

You'd have to pay upwards of $130 to play the same Zelda game on various Nintendo consoles.

 

Sony seems to get it a little more than Nintendo; but even they are slow in implementing a feature that seems like a no-brainer from the start.  Now, I’m not the kind of guy that feels entitled to play whatever game I like on whatever system I like… these machines are their developer’s babies, so what they say goes; but gamers aren’t the ones that opened the retro gaming on modern devices door, Sony and Nintendo are.  People like to joke and say that Nintendo makes portable machines that print money, but in actuality it’s nostalgia for past games that’s really raking in the dough.

It’s 2012.  Games, by and large, are digital now, and for all intents and purposes they could be conceivably transferred from modern consoles to modern handheld gaming devices, albeit with graphical limitations.  Retro games have none of these limitations, and provide an instant library and cash flow system to new devices.  That’s where the problem lies: companies are worried that if you can easily transfer you copy of Super Mario on the Wii to your 3DS or your Spyro PSOne Classic to your Vita, they’ll lose out on your money; that is, they’ll lose out on double charging you.  Although a system of cross transfer compatibility makes sense from a consumer standpoint, from a business standpoint, companies are scared to death of this.  Maybe it speaks to how little money companies make per release.  Keep in mind that over the last 10 years, game budgets have soared.  20 years ago, it took four people to design, program, and complete a game.  Now it takes international teams.  The cost of making games is out of control, and companies have had to shift income to the cross platform sale of older titles to make ends meet.  I know it may seem inconceivable that a big company could have trouble making money when they’re releasing hundreds of titles; but it can happen…. Just look at Sega.

 

As a consumer, you should just about be fed up with this.  I know I am.  There’s no reason why we should be forced again and again to buy the same games.  I understand why we had to on purely cartridge based systems, but in this digital day and age there’s no excuse.  Its just greed.


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6 responses

12 04 2012
Aladan57

Yes what a a watershed moment in gaming when Nintendo announced the Virtual Console for their Wii system. Because no one had emulators and had downloaded every game rom by then. Gimme a break! Just about every gamer uses emulators and has gotten the entire collection of all these old systems by now.

12 04 2012
HCK

Some of us, sir, choose to game legally.

12 04 2012
Ted

Sony do have backwards compatability. I am playing the Neo Geo Metal Slug on my Vita right now -the same Neo Geo I played on my PsP. Who the hell told you otherwise?

They don’t have backwards compatability for UMDs, but none of the older games were ever offered as UMDs. TurbografX and Neo Geo games are fully compatable with the Vita

12 04 2012
HCK

You are correct, sir! I did a little more digging and found that Sony did in fact clear up the compatibility issue after they had released a statement saying they wouldn’t be playable as of yet. I have updated the piece to reflect this. Thank you so much for the heads up!

21 04 2012
WarrengOnline

HKC… I’ve ALWAYS wanted a quickfix of downloadable games of retro, JUST incase you have the itchies to play it and can’t find it. I will agree, the prices (because of the app store) should be $0.99 as I am still going out to buy the original cart if I can and when I can find them. I would LOVE to have ONE big library, something like Steam that will allow download on ANY device.

21 04 2012
WarrengOnline

I’ve always wanted this, downloadable games, retro mainly. ALL Nintendo, Atari, Coleco, sony, etc.. This was incase I had the itchies to play a game and did not have the physical copy as it was not easily attainable, if I could find it.

The downloadable version would fill its place. Now as for pricing, I am accustomed to the iPad’s app Store with games being $0.99. There are NO shipping, user guide-label-box-printing-costs, no medium copying, so WHY high prices? Greed. June 2012, all of that will change. Trust me.

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