Nintendo deliberately makes its classics difficult to obtain

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Super Mario 3D All-Stars features Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy – the first three Mario games to be released on Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii respectively. With the package, Nintendo wants to celebrate the 35th anniversary of mascot Mario.

But because 3D All-Stars is an anniversary pack, Nintendo has chosen to offer the bundle only for a limited time. The games will no longer be available after March 2021. This applies to the box that will be in stores from September 18, but also to the digital version in the Nintendo eShop.

There is something to be said for the limited physical sales of the game: making new cartridges and game boxes costs money, after which they also have to be shipped to stores. But it is much easier for Nintendo to continue to offer the digital version. The company does this with almost all of its Switch games, which are still available in digital shops until today.

Artificial scarcity

With this strategy, Nintendo creates artificial scarcity. The game is only available for a short period of time, so Switch owners must be quick to buy their favorite classics again. In doing so, the company follows the example of Disney that puts its films back in the safe after the initial sale on DVD and Blu-ray. To be able to sell them again later at a price that never drops significantly.

A clever marketing trick that Nintendo previously carried out in a different form. Early Nintendo 3DS handheld owners gained access to old classics that were never sold to later purchasers of the pocket game console.

It is a thorn in the side of many gamers. If they ever want to play the classics on their Switch again, they will be forced to spend money in a relatively short term. That while playing old games is already extremely difficult.

Old games difficult to play

For films, it is possible to convert an old video tape to a DVD, for example, which then even works in your modern Blu-ray player. That is not the case with games: your modern Switch cannot play an old Nintendo 64 title.

If you want to play an old game, you must have the old original hardware at home. Equipment that game companies have often stopped selling for years. Many of these devices are also difficult to connect to a modern TV, because they are made for old-fashioned picture tubes.

Jump through hoops

Gamers are therefore dependent on companies re-releasing their games for new generations of consoles. Good news for those companies, because it allows them to sell the same game several times to the same consumer.

Nintendo has been responding to this for years. Old games for the NES and SNES are repackaged in mini game consoles, which sold for hefty amounts due to limited editions. Those who want to play games on the Switch for those classic platforms can take out a subscription to get access to a limited offer.

Gamers have to jump through hoops to play favorite games from their childhood. That is annoying without the artificial sales deadline, but with this tactic Nintendo makes it even more difficult to buy old games.

Classics are forgotten

Nintendo’s decision is also bad news for preserving old classics, which make them more difficult to play for younger generations of gamers. They didn’t grow up with the consoles where Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy appeared on and can’t just play the games on modern hardware.

That while Mario 64 is seen as one of the most significant games of the 90s, with which Nintendo defined how 3D games would play in the years that followed. It is as if it is made difficult for movie fans to watch Casablanca, or if The Beatles albums can only be heard with a lot of hassle.

All those young gamers can still choose to illegally download those unobtainable classics and play them on a smartphone or computer using an emulator. But that cannot be the intention.

Bastiaan Vroegop, editor Bright

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