Gamer’s Diary: My Fear of the Gaming Industry’s Manipulation of the Consumer
Super Mario 3D All Stars finally releases today to much fanfare from gamers everywhere. It’s Mario so you know it’s going to be good. I mean that’s a given. Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy were the premiere 3D platformers of their time with Mario 64 kicking off the era of 3D gaming while Sunshine and Galaxy found unique ways to expand on said 3D gaming formula. I played these games when they initially came out and would like to soon have a copy and play these games again for my amusement.
One problem: I don’t own a Nintendo Switch. Also they are hard to come by nowadays due to the shortages during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Oh and the ones available are freakishly expensive. To add to insult to injury, 3D All Stars happens to be a limited time release.
Yup. You read that right. Limited time release.
I thought it might have been a misinterpretation but nope, Nintendo intends on releasing this game in a limited time window until March 31, 2021 for both physical and digital versions of the game. That means if you don’t get this game by said March date you better be prepared to pony up some dough on eBay because you are poop out of luck my guy.
This sucks. Really really sucks.
It’s bad enough that it’s difficult to get a Switch these days but now it will likely be incredibly difficult to get a game that people would most likely want to play. Not to mention even if you would like to get the game later you have to get it by a specific date, adding unnecessary pressure to purchase something immediately. This type of marketing ploy may seemed like a good idea in Nintendo’s head but to the consumer it just makes us losers in the grand scheme of things. People will likely rush to purchase the game without a second thought and it will generate tremendous sales for the time being.
This “trick” could potentially lead to other companies pulling the same ploy.
Buying games via physical copies are kind of difficult these days considering there is a massive push for downloading games via online stores. There is a benefit to buying games online. You won’t have to worry about the discs in the console getting dirty. Machines will run quietly instead of loud noises. There’s more room to play games than trying to stack a bunch of CDs in a corner somewhere. So yes, it’s rather more prudent to buy games digitally than a physical copy.
However, there is one aspect that physical copies have over digitally purchased games and that is the agency of having ownership of something you bought.
I still have my old PlayStation 3 80GB version and I can still play my old PSOne and PS2 games at my choosing. I also still have an assortment of classic PS3 games like the Ratchet & Clank Collection or the Sly Cooper Trilogy that I could easily boot up and play again if I feel like it. I don’t have to re-buy some old classic games when I could easily play them at my own discretion. Plus some of these games are very rare and really difficult to purchase these days. Most don’t have remasters or re-released collections on a higher console with graphical power. Some are lost to time. Unless I have a lot of dough and plan on going on a bidding war on eBay to get said games then they are pretty much out of my reach.
Like I said: it sucks.
Andrew Reiner of Game Informer said it best in his article in regards to the troubling nature of the marketing of 3D All Stars.
Yes, all physical games eventually run out of supplies, but no game should be removed from a digital marketplace unless there’s some kind of license that expires. We’ve seen licenses expire in Marvel games and with songs. Limited Run Games’ entire business is selling a limited number of physical games for titles that you can’t get anywhere else. These aren’t issues that are limiting the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Nintendo is once again masterfully playing the supply and demand game with consumers. That’s all this is, and it’s shameful.
I know this strategy is likely to be successful. Nintendo is pushing the perception online like this is the greatest thing in the world but to me as a gamer, it’s false smiles. We’re getting screwed over and I don’t like it. The day I eventually get a Switch I may be unlucky to purchase 3D All Stars. Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy are some of the best platforming games ever made and I may never get a chance to experience them remastered on my brand new console. Companies like EA, Ubisoft, Sony and Microsoft will likely pay attention and try to capitalize this as well. It could be the cynic in me talking but I wouldn’t be surprised if games like Def Jam: Fight for NY finally get remastered for the Ninth Generation Consoles of Gaming but you can only purchase them for like six months before it goes away again. That would stink.
To Nintendo, this seems like a major win. To us consumers, we’re the losers and likely won’t win again.