Op-Ed: Nintendo Just Can’t Figure Out the Virtual Console

Robert opines on what he sees as a bungling of the introduction of SNES games on New 3DS.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 03/15/2016 10:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

I was incredibly thrilled to hear during the last Nintendo Direct broadcast that SNES games would be heading to the 3DS Virtual Console, until I realized the addition is a New 3DS exclusive. Now, an olive branch is an olive branch, and considering how many years now fans have been pleading with the company to bring Super Nintendo software to its handheld, there’s certainly room for some jubilation over the development. Yet, there’s also room for some outrage, too. Why in the world would Nintendo land lock SNES games to New 3DS systems when there are millions of baseline 3DS consoles already in the wild, not to mention 2DS systems, as well?

The obvious answer is money; New 3DS, whether in its XL or baseline form, is Nintendo’s current flagship handheld. SNES games are among those most cherished by the Nintendo faithful, so it makes sense from a business standpoint to restrict that software to the latest, greatest versions of the company’s portable. After all, there is a certain contingent of consumers that will buy a console for only a handful of games. There are people who will purchase a PlayStation, for instance, with the express purpose of using the machine to play Madden and nothing else. So Nintendo logically can assume that offering Super Nintendo software on New 3DS systems exclusively will be enough to entice some players to upgrade to or simply outright buy its latest handheld.

Which is good for Nintendo; applause and accolades for the bean counters, and all that. For those who don’t own a New 3DS system or don’t have the ability to pay to upgrade to one, this is anything but welcome news, as it’s yet another example of Nintendo being tone deaf to the needs of its fans.

Fans: “We want Super Nintendo games on 3DS!”

Nintendo: “You want Super Nintendo games on New 3DS? Done!”

Fans: “Wait, no… we… that’s not what we said!”

Again, there are millions of non-New 3DS systems in the hands of fans already. Why actively shun them simply to attempt to strong arm those people into buying a new portable? 3DS itself is arguably already approaching the end of its life cycle; in another couple of years, we’ll likely be hearing all about the next Nintendo handheld, and that’s assuming NX isn’t the hybrid console it’s been rumored to be. Is it really that necessary to make this blatant cash-grab to eke out a few more system sales, sales that likely would have happened even without this overly aggressive maneuver? I’m of the opinion that it’s not.

Furthermore, we’re talking about game sales. which it stands to reason that the more available platforms to sell software for, the more units can be pushed in the long run. With the comparatively smaller number of New 3DS handhelds out in the world, that’s less people who will even be able to enjoy this addition to the Virtual Console lineup. “But Robert, that’s the idea: now more people will go and buy the handheld!” To which I say… meh. Maybe. It’s possible, of course, and I already discussed why above, but in my opinion, it’s just a bit too much shade being thrown the way of fans than I can stand.

Chargin' Chuck

As someone who owns a New 3DS, it still irks me that Nintendo made this move. I personally enjoy using my 2DS for Virtual Console games more than the other versions of the hardware, because I think that the face buttons and D-pad are more conducive for the gameplay of those classic titles. It’s not like Super Mario World is unplayable on my New 3DS; quite the opposite, as I’ve been plunking a fair bit of time into the game since I downloaded it. But even though I’d be perfectly willing to buy the game on a 2DS, Nintendo won’t let me or anyone else, and it’s a drag.

Also, are we seriously still discussing pricing when it comes to Nintendo and its Virtual Console games? So even though I already own Super Mario World on Wii and Wii U, I get not even a whiff of a discount for purchasing the game twice now (three, if I include the original SNES copy). There’s no other way to put it: that’s flat-out unacceptable, Nintendo. I don’t want to hear about all the work that has to go into getting the game running on New 3DS, either; it’s a 16-bit title running on what’s essentially a portable GameCube. Whatever effort it took to get the game on the handheld was negligible, and the least Nintendo could do was take some edge off the cost as a sign of good faith for being a loyal customer.

When Nintendo gets it right, I acknowledge it, but when the company gets things wrong, I feel equally compelled to open my mouth. I’m thankful to take SNES software on the go, but Nintendo could have done a much better job of rolling out this latest addition to the portable Virtual Console library. As it stands, this is a bare-minimum effort on the company’s part that reeks of opportunism and greed.

3 Responses to “Op-Ed: Nintendo Just Can’t Figure Out the Virtual Console”

  • 1379 points
    xeacons says...

    Nah nah. Portable Wii! Considering the fact that the only exclusive (and I use the word loosely) title for the N3DS has been Xenoblade Chronicles. I concur completely. After nearly a decade since the VC launched on the Wii, and still no discount, it’s upsetting. I realized Nintendo couldn’t fully get the GBA VC running like they wanted with the Ambassador Program, but the AP proved it could be done. Ergo, there’s no excuse why GBA and SNES games shouldn’t have a place on 3DS and 2DS.

  • 0 points

    Well you nailed it in this article, Robert. Nintendo keeps dropping the ball, and has done so for many years now. It is just opportunistic and greedy. It’s been a gradual downward slide for Nintendo ever since the Wii and the attempt to capture the “casual” market. They deserve to be in a distant third place, since they obviously don’t care about their loyal customers any longer, and of course are more concerned with churning out Amiibo toys. But, it is a business, and as such I have decided to take my money elsewhere to let my disgust be heard. Apart from the one or two Nintendo made games a year, I prefer indie titles on any platform. Seems to be more creativity coming from that sector than the big guys. The only games off the top of my head I want for Wii U are Starfox and Zelda. So, one or two games a year with the rest of my purchases off the eShop. I will NOT pay a third time(or more)to play SNES games I already have either, since I already have them in various other formats. When will Nintendo EVER turn themselves around??

  • 849 points
    ejamer says...

    Although I’m also frustrated by this decision (and by Nintendo’s ongoing system of “digital rights” locking games to specific pieces of hardware), I think there might be some validity beyond just trying to profit.

    Nintendo does still seem to care strongly about performance and appearance – especially when it comes to nostalgic classics that the company was built on. Running an emulator for SNES shouldn’t require a New 3DS, but I’m willing to believe that running the emulator that *Nintendo deems good enough* for their classic experiences might take something a little more.

    The GBA games given away to 3DS Ambassadors do have some flaws, and the emulators aren’t as smooth or nice as what you get with more widely released games. It’s possible that they don’t have the resources/ability to do a better job on normal 3DS hardware.

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