Nintendo Is Making Great Games But What About Their Fans?
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Nintendo, the oldest player in the console market that still partakes in it. Their games are timeless and great, their consoles the most innovative, and all this has given Nintendo a giant fanbase. The fans, however, find themselves often in what could be described as an abusive relationship. They keep giving their love to Nintendo, but Nintendo doesn’t seem to care. The worst part is it seems to be getting worse and worse lately, so it makes us wonder, is the Japanese developer sowing the seeds of its fall with these decisions?
Nintendo Switch Drift
It is no mystery that the Nintendo Switch joycons have an issue with drift, Nintendo having faced numerous class action lawsuits due to this issue. The worst part is that there seems to be no fix in sight, even the Lite version of the Nintendo Switchstill suffers from joycon drift, despite the Switch Lite having no way of swapping the joycons. This problem might be caused by a design flaw detailed in this video:
However, this is just one of the possibilities as Nintendo hasn’t yet confirmed the exact cause of joycon drift, another popular theory is that the issue is caused by dust getting under the stick.
Even though Nintendo is offering free repairs for joycons (in certain regions), this should nevertheless not be an issue. All controllers drift eventually, everything breaks, but the joycon drift is ridiculous at this point. Nintendo also is trying to downplay this issue as detailed in this thread on Twitter by user Kremling Kampaigner:
Crackdown On Fan Games
It isn’t news that Nintendo doesn’t look kindly on fan games, Nintendo having a track record of forcing developers to take down fan creations. Famous examples include Pokemon Uranium, Another Metroid 2 Remake, and the Super Mario Battle Royale FanGame.
These games have all been taken down quickly after their release due to Nintendo’s harsh policies against them. The late Satoru Iwata has commented about this issue in the past saying that he wishes that Nintendo fans would not be treated as criminals but also said that they can’t approve activities that threaten their proprieties. This seems to imply some form of internal debate within Nintendo about how to deal with fangames.
This attitude doesn’t even affect just Fan Games, the popular mod for Super Smash Brothers. Brawl, Project M, stopped all of its development to avoid legal action from Nintendo.
Nevertheless, there’s no question about the fact that Nintendo could handle fangames better than the way they currently are. Sega and Valve have been encouraging fan creations and even allowing fans to create actual licensed games. Valve allowed the developers of Black Mesa to continue their work and even sell it on their platform for money, resulting in a remake that is arguably even better than the original Half-Life. Sonic Mania‘s developer, Christian Whitehead, started off by developing fan ports of older Sonic games before Sega gave him the reign to create Mania.
This approach to fan games has garnered Sega and Valve much more goodwill from people and also seems to have paid off. Sonic Mania was the most critically acclaimed Sonic game in 15 years and has sold over a million copies worldwide within a year of its release. This approach is something Nintendo could learn from and the way they handle fan games.
The Super Smash Bros Tournament Shut Down By Nintendo
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social distancing, tournaments for Smash had to be moved online. The Big House, one of the biggest Smash competitions was forced by Nintendo to cancel the online event due to the use of a mod called Slippi. This mod allows Super Smash Brothers Melee to be played online. Nintendo didn’t approve of this and a spokesperson said the following “Unfortunately, the upcoming Big House tournament announced plans to host an online tournament for Super Smash Bros. Melee that requires use of illegally copied versions of the game in conjunction with a mod called ‘Slippi’ during their online event. Nintendo therefore contacted the tournament organizers to ask them to stop. They refused, leaving Nintendo no choice but to step in to protect its intellectual property and brands. Nintendo cannot condone or allow piracy of its intellectual property.”
Super Smash Brothers Melee is a game that hasn’t been sold on the Gamecube in over a decade, yet they insist on canceling a tournament for such a petty reason. The most outrageous part of all this is perhaps that Nintendo can do this due to how broken the copyright system in the US is. Defending your intellectual propriety isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the problem comes when the system allows abuses of power such as this that it becomes a problem.
And I think we should also tackle emulation and Nintendo’s way of dealing with it:
Emulation And Nintendo’s Aversion To It
Emulation is a really important part of the preservation of video game history, most companies don’t properly store their history. Konami, for example, has lost the source code for Silent Hill 2 and 3 as it is famously known after the release of the Silent Hill Hd Collection, resulting in sub-par ports of unfinished versions of the games. Despite having pc ports, they aren’t available to buy on online storefronts such as Steam or GOG. The only Silent Hill games available to buy online on the current-gen are Silent Hill 4 and Homecoming. (Get Silent HillHomecoming for only $8! here) Therefore, the only legal ways of playing most of the series are by buying a PS2and a used copy. What happens when the last PS2 stops working? These games and all others that haven’t been preserved properly are lost forever if not for emulation and archives of old ROMs.
Here is the official statement of Emuparadise on the matter:
Now I bet some of you are wondering how this is relevant to Nintendo? Well, I’ll explain how, back in 2018 Nintendo forced the emulation website Emuparadise to take down all of its ROMs or face legal action from them. Emuparadise complied resulting in the takedown of thousands of ROMs and the loss of many hard to find games. The salt on the wound perhaps is that Nintendo doesn’t even sell many of the games that were available on the website. The Virtual Console is a thing but that offers a very limited selection of classic games, not to mention some consoles aren’t even available on it. Nintendo hasn’t commercialized GameCube and Wii games for years at this point, the Wii shopping channel having been closed in early 2019.
These games are more or less lost to time now if not for emulation and the efforts of dedicated fans to keep these ROMs in circulation. Digital archiving is becoming more and more of an issue as the years go by, and blind enforcement of copyright isn’t making it any easier. Emulation matters and acting like it doesn’t, is not ok.
Nintendo is neglecting both its old and new fans by simply making games people would want to play unavailable, even in a legal way.
Now it would be a shame if when Nintendo does make their older games available they’d do something like making them available for a limited time.
The Mario 3D All-Star Collection
This is like beating a dead horse at this point, but no rundown of Nintendo’s anti-consumer practices would be complete without a mention of The Super Mario 3D All-StarsCollection. This collection has been the subject of many discussions ever since its announcement and its availability were made public. For those that don’t know, the collection will be discontinued after March 31st, this is simply a marketing strategy meant to create artificial scarcity to give people an added incentive to buy the game now. The saddest part, perhaps, is that this strategy worked, the collection has sold amazingly, selling 5.21 million copies.
This is a sad outcome because it shows, not just Nintendo but other companies that this type of release can work despite the amount of ire people have for such a practice.
The worst part is that this collection isn’t even anything that special, especially when compared to other collections released by the publisher in the past. The Kirby Dream Collection contained 6 games as well as 13 new Challenge stages as well as the soundtrack on a separate CD and a 48-page celebratory artbook. Oh, and did I mention the retail price was 39.99$, not 60$ as is the case with the Super Mario 3D All-Stars Collection which comes with just the games and the soundtrack on the same cartridge. This is without going into detail about the emulation in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars Collection is sub-par compared to unofficial emulators.
These aren’t even all the features of the Kirby collection but it just puts into perspective the way Nintendo views its customers and fans today. Nintendo only cares about the paycheck nowadays and nothing more.
It is a sad reality that Nintendo has started being this hostile towards its fans, while seemingly forgetting that a large reason of why they are still here is exactly because of them. They’ve always supported Nintendo and it seems that they still are, even in the midst of all the anti-consumer decisions that they are making. It makes you wonder though, when will this goodwill finally run out for Nintendo and fans see what they are doing.
This situation seems to have only gotten worse since the late Satoru Iwata passed away, Iwata has often been accused of being a poor CEO. However, looking back in hindsight it becomes more and more clear he was one of the most consumer-friendly CEOs, one that didn’t just kneel to every shareholder request. This seems to not be the case anymore and shareholders seem to be running the show at Nintendo now.
The worst part is probably for all the creative people working within the company, as they are not responsible for these business decisions that Nintendo has been making over the years. They are the ones responsible for all the amazing games Nintendo puts out while the company continues to attack its user base with shady practices.
These practices also seem to be putting the developer and publisher under more and more scrutiny from people lately. Many people having expressed their dissatisfaction more vocally as of late.