Ugh… the gut punch we all knew was coming. Wii U is a tough blow but most of its best titles are available on disc. 3DS, on the other hand has tons and tons of exclusive stuff to the eShop. Some of its best games are multiplatform but are played best on 3DS with the 3D (like Shovel Knight).
I hate this. But I suppose all good things must come to an end.
Terrible news. You’d think Nintendo would have at taken notice of what happened last year with the PSP/PS3/Vita content and how the decision was overturned, but Nintendo being tone deaf isn’t surprising.
I’ll come back with some recommendations, on a high level the following categories of games will disappear for good:
3DS digital only downloads, including apps, 3D videos and animations etc
DSiWare available on the 3DS eShop
Game Boy Virtual Console
Game Gear Virtual Console
PC Engine Virtual Console (short-lived in Japan)
NES/Famicom Virtual Console
DLC for all games that use it
All Virtual Consoles including MSX in Japan, and the virtualised Wii VC which used Wii mode
Ugh… I just realized a ton of DLC for games are hidden inside in-game shops. You can’t even buy some of this content on the eShop and need to make progress within games first. Fire Emblem games are an example of this - there are whole maps and even campaigns that require you to progress in the base game to be able to purchase. Awakening has a few maps like this. But Fates has 2/3rds of the game locked by this sort of thing.
You know what? With this news, I’m think I’m done with this hobby. This is like the video game equivalent of burning books to me. It was one thing with DSi and Wii - they were the first Nintendo systems with online shops so I gave it a pass, but 3DS and Wii U are modern enough to be carried forward. And so much content is exclusive to the store - literally hundreds of titles and countless pieces of DLC. It’s extremely cruel and just goes to show how little Nintendo cares about its most loyal fanbase.
Imagine needing to play everything when its released to experience it at its best. Who has time for that? It’s really not an art form when you consider just how disposable it all is.
Yeah, the amount of faff required to get older games working properly really makes me feel like I’m “done” as well.
I could write an essay on how long it’s taken me to just activate my PSP to play some games last month, and today I haven’t been able to transfer a game I just bought off the PS Store to the PSP. It doesn’t show up on the PS3 Store, it shows up on the Vita Store though, but transferring it from Vita to PS3 puts it in a separate place where it can’t be transferred to PSP. And that’s just a small amount of the friction and amount of maintenance that has to be done just to keep playing some digital games - Sony pulled the PSP firmware update files from their site so I had to jump through hoops just to update the firmware so I could transfer PSP games off the PS3. And so on…
and that’s all happened after the community managed to convince Sony to keep the stores up. That’s the best case scenario.
It’s repeating itself with the 3DS and Wii U now, only it’s going to be significantly worse since, as you mentioned, a lot of core first party games relied on digital downloads, including some of Nintendo’s most experimental work (Darumeshi Sports Shop/Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball was free-to-start). And there’s no guarantee Nintendo will reverse their decision like Sony did.
The region locking also makes it worse for everyone, since certain games were digital only in certain regions. Fatal Frame 5 was digital only in North America, The Guild01/Guild02 games were digital only outside of Japan, most of the Sega 3D Classics games were digital only outside of Japan, Shin Megami Tensei IV was digital only in Europe…
The reality is all this stuff was always throwaway entertainment same as books and music and movies before them. These are commercial endeavors that ultimately become commercially unviable. There will always be people who desire these things, and because downloads will still be allowed for things you already own then you’re not losing things you own, but you won’t be able to buy more on dead platforms.
There are books, music, and film that will never be seen or heard again. Nothing is permanent. It’s better to come to terms with that and realize you will never be able to see, play, and own it all.
I didn’t reflect on it much last night, but you all raise some good points, especially around the impact to DLC. It feels like a constant battle just to preserve things, with companies working against you and your interests as a customer. I should probably find a way to care less about all of this, since clearly Nintendo doesn’t give a shit.
Easy to say, much harder to do. You have to take into account the fact both these affected systems have tiny internal storage. Nintendo is using the cheap storage to allow you to download whenever you need to. They just want to shut down the retail infrastructure which in 2022 is probably ripe for security incursion as well as low numbers of actual sales.
Also. It’s quite possible the retail contracts for many of these games are running out. Ten year deals may have been the norm. Is it worth revisiting all that for the relatively tiny number of Wii Us sold? 3DS might be, but again, that’s dead too. I’m sure this also plays a role.
A lot of literature and art goes beyond “throwaway entertainment” as it ages. Unfortunately, (and perhaps rightfully) video games aren’t quite viewed the same way
But I’d argue that even pure entertainment has cultural significance. Like fashion, antiques, or even architecture, sometimes being able to enjoy older examples of the craft can inform us a lot about what life was like back when those things were new.
Take architecture for example. A lot of buildings are considered landmarks by local governments that cannot be taken down even by their owners. We preserve those buildings due to their contributions to the craft. If it were all about economics, we wouldn’t have a bunch of midcentury homes still up when there are a lot more economically advantages multifamily dwellings that could be built. We wouldn’t have tiny stone houses in a lot of old cities instead of sky scrapers. We wouldn’t have traditional city squares in European cities and would instead have mini-marts or something.
Targeted preservation of culture makes people happy. Sometimes that should be an overriding consideration over what is the most commercially viable allocation of resources. I’m not saying we should preserve everything all the time.
But taking down servers for all of this content? It just seems wrong to me.
Nintendo would simply tell you they are preserving it via the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service for those games, and would likely point you toward all the Switch remakes for Wii U content, etc.
As you say, some pieces of history remain and are left as is. I was in Charleston, SC recently and they built a thriving tourist attraction downtown via retention of old homes, etc.
Most places are not like this though. Where commercial, historical, and physical preservation all comes into harmony you will find that “art” becomes a buzzword and things are retained.
The thing is, even you have to admit there’s lots of dreck you’d never play among the detritus of online stores. Should we really expect platform holders to keep it all available for sale? If they limit what’s for sale to what’s historically significant, then people will squabble over the definition and undoubtedly some things are lost that certain groups consider important.
I think it’s important to realize that Nintendo probably doesn’t see this as a great thing they’re doing, but because of contracts, expenses, and plain old disinterest from most people in those platforms in 2022, it is a necessary thing for them to do.
I think it’s not as bleak now as maybe it once was. Xbox has reasonable compatibility to the OG. Sony has kept PS3 available for now but it looks like PS4 forward may be here a lot longer.
GoG.com doesn’t have everything but it’s a nice selection of PC gaming’s past. Steam seems to still have most everything that’s appeared there.
A lot of what upsets people most is the 8, 16 and 32-bit eras, because owning those things is expensive, so they cheat and use emulation regardless of the availability on secondary markets. Whole devices are built around doing just that.
Realistically, most Wii U DLCs and such won’t be missed by most. 3DS will have more things lost to time, but likely people would not recall those games anyway. We here are in the niches. We know what “matters” but most people don’t even care. For most people, the games on these two stores specifically that they might revisit have already been moved to Switch.
All the content will be online available for download if you know where to look. the Nintendo storefront for wiiu/3ds has long since been accessible by third party tools that allow downloading and decrypting of all the store content directly from Nintendo’s servers without an external account. They include a scraper that serves up the complete content including all game patches, optional dlc, free content, etc. For all regions. At least nothing will be lost to time this round.