eShop and Nintendo console compatibility: a continuity problem

eShop and Nintendo console compatibility: a continuity problem

eShop and Nintendo console compatibility

Over the years, it appears more and more evident how the characteristic "systemic" closure of the consoles is an anachronistic element, compared to the evolution of technologies. The idea of ​​the console as a closed system even within its own line, with the generations separated from each other in watertight compartments, is giving way to the concept of "ecosystem", which in the videogame field indicates above all the possibility of accessing a library extended and linked to the user account, rather than to the possession of a specific physical hardware and software.

The evolution in this sense has been progressive especially in recent years, carried out first of all by Microsoft and with Sony is adjusting, although it still needs several adjustments.

Nintendo, after an excellent implementation of direct backward compatibility with the previous console in Wii and Wii U, is currently the one furthest behind on this aspect and the clear division between the generations of consoles, in terms of software compatibility, is becoming problematic.

With the current technological potential, the lack of continuity concerning accounts and the connected library, between one console and another, becomes unjustifiable, even simply from the point of view of consumer rights. In the face of an evolution that for some time seems to push towards the dematerialization of physical hardware, Nintendo's position appears very anachronistic, but the Kyoto house has always been rather reluctant to process these innovative thrusts, compared to a traditional approach. of the market. Obviously we are not talking about a conceptual revolution such as the disappearance of the indissoluble exclusive hardware-software link, but at least we could hope for an extended backwards compatibility system or the creation of an all-encompassing digital store.

The disappearance of stores in the digital age

The closure of Nintendo eShop on 3DS and Wii U raises important issues on the digital market The problem of lack of continuity between generations for consoles and services Nintendo has emerged with great evidence with the recent announcement of the closure of the stores related to Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, a maneuver similar to that threatened by Sony some time ago for PS3 and PS Vita but then retracted by the PlayStation company, at least for the moment. . On the contrary, Nintendo seems to want to continue inexorably with its decision, closing the servers related to the stores in question and making the products of the respective catalogs unreachable, unfortunately also for those who had regularly purchased them, but not downloaded on their consoles. The importance of this event also derives from a fundamental change that took place in the last decade in particular, that is the shift of the market towards digital purchases.

The idea of ​​the possibility of closing online stores without major consequences for large part of the audience derives from a classic conception of the videogame market, in which most of the products are on physical support, but when this relationship is reversed, the problems emerge with greater force: the more we move towards the purchase of digital goods , the more obviously it becomes important that these are available and supported for as long as possible, under penalty of total loss of value of the goods purchased. Furthermore, considering that these continue to cost as much as the physical ones (if not anymore, in some cases), the lightness with which the producers decide the total closure of the stores involves a considerable additional risk linked to digital purchases, for users, which could become heavier given the current relationship between physical and digital purchases and the growing trend of the latter.

The Nintendo historical archive

The Nintendo Switch Online classics have probably contributed to the 'abandonment of the Virtual Console About 1000 games will disappear forever with the closure of the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U shops, even taking into consideration only the digital ones and therefore not obtainable in any other way. To these are added over 500 Virtual Console titles, 350 of which are not available on the similar service of Nintendo Switch Online, decidedly incomplete compared to what had previously been achieved by the consoles in question. This is the critical point of the whole issue: although it is understandable that a company decides to pull the plug on services related to products that are now out of the market, it makes little sense that digital elements, which by their nature should not require space or maintenance expensive and excessive, must be eliminated forever and made inaccessible. We talked about it while discussing the availability of classic games in the era of their technical reproducibility: digital support should represent a considerable advantage in the possibility of making as many products accessible as possible, therefore their total cancellation seems to be a contradiction.

A clear example of this flaw is represented by the case of the Virtual Console: between Wii and Wii U, Nintendo had developed a truly commendable and well-functioning platform, a true virtuous example of how a legal emulation system based on platforms could work classic 8 and 16-bit. Of course, the prices were still very questionable, but the most critical element was the lack of extension of the platform to subsequent consoles, completely removing the incentive for users to create a historical library given the lack of long-term support. A little farsighted programming would have been enough to make the Virtual Console a pillar of Nintendo's playful offer, if maintained progressively from generation to generation instead of being limited to two consoles and then deactivated, as a paradigmatic case of the current problem of the whole world. setting up digital stores.

A wish for the future

The eShop of Nintendo Switch, together with the Online, are constantly evolving It will not be easy, but the hope is that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo work on their platforms in order to build ecosystems in which registered user accounts can count on a continuity that goes beyond the generational divisions between consoles, as regards the purchases made. The construction of integrated ecosystems benefits users but also ensures greater loyalty towards companies, because it stimulates the fact of staying within a family of products through time and generations of hardware, at least as long as these continue to present themselves. in a traditional way. It must be considered that, based on the numbers detected by market analyzes, physical products are practically becoming a niche with respect to digital purchases and this must involve a change of course even for the major producers.

Of digital platforms "platform agnostic", meaning that they exist regardless of the device to which they connect, should now be the standard assumption of any digital entertainment service provider and it is something that is becoming evident even in video games. Microsoft is implementing its project with Game Pass and Xbox accounts, Sony is also making progress on this front, while Nintendo should try to work more on continuity in the management of the digital identities of its users and purchase history. The hope is that the closure of the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U stores represents the latest episode of this type, with the disposal of an old system in anticipation of a radical change in the management of services, waiting to see what will happen to the eShop. Nintendo Switch once its successor arrives.

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