It is no secret that the most storied company in gaming’s relatively brief history is under fire. The most recent console generation is the culprit.
Gamers no longer pine for the same types of experiences that once ruled the market.
Nintendo has been reeling from the terrible performance of their newest console, the Wii U. Their stock has been falling as they continue to drop estimates for console sales and continue to dart from idea to idea.
But this article isn’t about Nintendo’s stock level, rather it is about how often their games are infamously out of stock at physical retailers and how it doesn’t add up when you look at their digital strategy.
Bravely Default is out of stock everywhere…
And I am getting frustrated.
This Target is the fourth place I have ventured for the title and I know what is going to happen. It isn’t until the friendly face in the red polo gives a shake of his head that I finally give up on the hunt.
I am going to go home and buy yet another game on the eShop, Nintendo’s online store. But this is not ideal..
In fact, this is not even the first time this has happened. It happened the last time I tried to buy a Nintendo exclusive title. And the time before that.. and the time before that….
Nintendo intentionally holding back stock?
There are certainly rumors that, to curb used games sales and increase demand for their first party and exclusive third-party titles, Nintendo has been holding back stock on their games.
Most publishers with big name games are being forced to come forward and apologize to fans for “lack of stock”.
Simply put, if I download a game from Nintendo’s eShop, it is mine forever. But I also can’t do much with that game aside from play it on MY console using MY memory card.
On the positive side, I can also purchase it in my pajamas the moment it is released without traveling anywhere (assuming the servers are working properly, another issue that has recently plagued Nintendo).
The problem with the Nintendo eShop
The problem is that if you are going to rely so heavily on selling digital games, you have to have a service that is more reputable. Nintendo classically lags behind Microsoft, Sony, Apple, and Valve when it comes to community.
Recent titles like the above mentioned Bravely Default are making a suitable attempt to incorporate micro-transactions and community into the core gameplay experience.
But playing a game like Bravely Default ALSO solidifies how much work Nintendo still has.
There is no dedicated friends list that works like an Xbox Live or a Playstation Network, so we are left with an unsubstantial experience. I have to have my 3DS closed for my friends to find me in game and “StreetPass”.
Can you Download previously purchased Nintendo games?
What happens when I accidentally drop my 3DS — with twelve games downloaded to it — into a giant puddle during the next rainstorm?
Unfortunately, Nintendo has no solid solution for this.
So let me get this straight. I can no longer purchase games in a store because you want me to purchase my titles from the eShop. But… if something happens to my console or handheld — the system breaking comes to mind — I have to repurchase EVERYTHING.
Marry that to the fact that I have to go out and purchase storage to physically hold the games, and I am looking at a very expensive proposition.
Digital Goods Price Fixing
There is also the issue of price fixing. This is something that Apple has been sued for recently.
With digital media, there isn’t a customer choice at this point. I am either paying Nintendo and Square Enix the $40 for Bravely Default or I am not getting the game at all. There is no competition and it is almost monopolistic.
The Counter Argument
There are counter arguments for my opinion of course.
There is always the fact that discs break too. I can just as easily trip, fall, and break a disc.
There is also the discussion that this is fair to the developers of games. If my game is only available at full price from the publisher or developer, then that company is getting the all of the fruit of their labors. THIS IS A GOOD THING.
But we need to find a happy medium where both physical retailers and developers are sharing profit without greed. Perhaps that is impossible.
Stock in Nintendo
All of this being said, I still have faith in Nintendo to deliver a quality product.
With a better actualization of their online performances, Nintendo may have something with their new stock strategy.
Ultimately, I still travel some store to store for a physical copy of my favorite Nintendo games. I cannot say that for any other video game company.