I swear, the song “i hate u, i love u” was written about my relationship with Nintendo.
We’ve had some really great times, Nintendo and I. My earliest memories of gaming are playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!! in my grandparents’ game room, and Ice Hockey with my dad. I remember thinking the world had truly changed upon seeing Super Mario 64 for the first time. My 14th birthday gift was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I’d largely moved on to more “adult” experiences by the time the Wii came out, but damnit if I didn’t buy one and have fun.
But those days are gone. What we have now is a Nintendo that, either knowingly or unwittingly, takes advantage of its most loyal customers and sticks it to them when they’re most excited.
How did we get here?
The Virtual Console
The Virtual Console was first introduced on the Wii. It served as an emulation platform for games and systems of the past — think NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, etc. The Virtual Console made its journey from the Wii to its successor, the Wii U — but the games that customers had previously purchased didn’t. Nintendo did offer a discount on the Wii U for games bought on the Wii — but the prospect of having to buy something twice left a lot of Wii U owners unhappy.
And that’s not to mention the Nintendo 3DS handheld. The Virtual Console made its way onto that platform, as well — and, much like the Wii U, games purchased on the Wii didn’t make the trip. So some Nintendo faithful wound up buying their favorite games two or three times, all thanks to Nintendo’s inability to implement cross-platform licensing.
I did not partake in the Amiibo craze, as I had no desire to experience the frustration I’d heard so much about. Amiibo are small figurines with NFC capability that can be used with the Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS. When scanned, new characters, outfits, or levels show up in supported games. Nintendo hit it out of the park with the Amiibo concept — unfortunately, scarcity drove up demand, frustrating fans and lining the pockets of eBay sellers.
And not only did Nintendo vastly under-supply the market with Amiibo figurines — it assigned Amiibo lines to specific retailers, ensuring customers would have to make trips all around town to fill out their collections. Really, really lame.
Signs point to Nintendo re-releasing some lines of Amiibo that were limited runs. It might not erase the terrible memories, but it’s a nice olive branch.
The NES Classic Edition
That Amiibo situation sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? If anything proves Nintendo is either oblivious or evil, it’s the launch of the NES Classic Edition. Directly after the announcement of the product in July, games journalists and fans alike asked Nintendo when the system would be available for pre-order. They continued to ask until weeks before last Friday’s launch, without so much as a peep out of Nintendo.
The entire world knew there would be high demand for the NES Classic Edition, and rather than ramp up to meet that demand, Nintendo instead let scalpers run the show. 400% markup, anyone?
Will the Fans Remember?
Maybe Nintendo genuinely didn’t know what a hit it had with the NES Classic Edition. Or maybe it thought the buzz was worth burning some fans here and there. Both are unacceptable. The fans who feel slighted by the handling of this (and the Amiibo debacle of the past) will be the ones Nintendo counts on to buy its new Switch console in Spring 2017.
Nintendo had better hope, for its sake, that they have very short memories.