Virtual Console Is Dead As We Know It: Good!

Virtual Console as we know it will no longer be a thing on Nintendo Switch. Why is this such a good thing?

The announcement from Nintendo that NES games, 20 at launch, will be available as part of the online subscription has people in hysterics. 20 games at launch with more to come, as part of a larger package sounds like a good deal. It sounds like the solution people have been honestly wanting to the lacklustre Virtual Console. So what’s the issue?

 

Virtual Console as a name and banner has been discontinued.
Virtual Console as a brand is dead. Apparently.

 

It’s In The Name

Let’s be honest, Nintendo wants as far away from anything related to the Wii branding as possible. Virtual Console is very much a relic of that time. In 2006 this service was incredible. Buy any available retro game you want. This service continued on 3DS and Wii U starting in 2012, but things changed.

The reaction to this was one of disdain.

“Why should we buy these same games again?”

“It’s too expensive!”

“Why are they releasing the games in this way?”

By this point Virtual Console needed to evolve and modernise. At this time the way we consume small media like TV, Films, Books and Music became increasingly subscription based. Access to an all you can eat buffet where you pick what you want. Instead, Virtual Console acted as buying the meals individually.

So why are people angry it’s gone? Some are even saying they are upset as it was why they bought the system, expecting it, despite Nintendo never saying it was coming.

 

Seriously, Why?

NES games are offered as part of a subscription model
NES games with added functionality will be part of the subscription service

This is perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the matter. People are being very vocal that “Nintendo doesn’t want our money” once they announced Virtual Console would not be returning. To this I can only ask, well what did you expect?

If you spend the better part of a decade telling a company you aren’t going to give them your money, things will change. Nintendo DID want your money and still do, but the loud and constant vocal dissatisfaction caused a change of course. They want your money, but you made it clear they weren’t getting it via that method.

So when Nintendo modernizes their retro offerings, addresses the complaints by adding new features and a different monetisation…people ask why?

It’s because you asked for it. Don’t go to Apple telling them to add the headphone jack again and then ask them “Well what did you do that for?” when they do. Don’t ask me to slap you in the face for six years, and when I do, ask why I did it.

 

The Service Is Simply Evolving…Into a Service!

Xbox Game Pass is a solution to getting games for cheap in a buffet format
Game Pass is another example of a subscription service in gaming

Virtual Console had to evolve. It had to change and this is the evolution they chose. As part of your $20 a year (Or less on the family plan with enough people) you are getting 20 NES games at launch. $1 per game, with added online play like controller swapping and screen sharing. Also included in this is all the future games they will add. Not to mention online play and cloud saves and discounts!

The one concern is that yes, it would be hard to maintain that low price point when more and more games or systems are added. At some point it becomes a money sink. It just depends where that point is for the service. Of course people would much rather just buy the games again, although as noted they spent a long time not wanting to.

Is this an ideal solution? Not really. It leaves a lot of holes but it addresses the immediate complaints of Virtual Console. Perhaps as the service evolves it will develop a stronger library.

 

Virtual Console Simply Had To Go!

Vs. Super Mario Bros highlights the potential danger of retro games handed out piece meal
Vs. Super Mario Bros. refuses to stop selling for over £6

Switch owners love indies. Nindies as they call them. But what you don’t hear mentioned is how Vs. Super Mario Bros, yet another release of the game, is consistently in the eShop charts. What would happen if Super Mario World, or A Link To The Past appeared too?

Indies would be smothered. Heck look on 3DS at the impact the releases of the GameBoy Pokemon titles had. Nostalgia sells but it comes at the cost of something else selling.

Plus, no one can argue that buying the same game for £5 is good value. It isn’t. Sure effectively renting them isn’t stellar either but here we are in a world where every company in every industry does just that. Even software companies do it.

For the sake of the third-party scene and to modernise to how content is consumed in the modern age, the format had to change.

 

The Games Are Probably Still Coming Anyway

Virtual Console as we know it is gone!
Virtual Console as we know it is gone!

I’ll read the statement Nintendo gave to Kotaku in full, as this will highlight a very important final point.

There are currently no plans to bring classic games together under the Virtual Console banner as has been done on other Nintendo systems

In none-PR terms, and in terms a lot of people seem to be missing in a world of skim reading headlines: The classic games will not be sold under the name “Virtual Console”.

Nowhere does it say they won’t be coming. Nowhere does it say “No Classic Games”. Just that the games won’t be sold under that name.

Can we all calm down now?

What form of branding will it take? Probably the Classic range of systems, or the subscription, or compilations like those released by Capcom and SEGA.

Plus, this highlights something. The association that retro games from Nintendo absolutely MUST be branded Virtual Console reminds us of the Wii U. Remember that back then the problem was the name, the branding became too synonymous with one specific thing and became a mess.

Now Virtual Console is the name demanded to be applied to retro releases. They want to break this connection to past brands that frankly shouldn’t be around. Most certainly not if they want to evolve going forward in a modern world.

 

So What Does This All Mean?

Perhaps overall this shows that people get too hung up on names? This is the reality of an evolving business, one that faced backlash from consumers. But now those same consumers are missing that they are why it changed, they are why it evolved. Yet they wonder why.

People also fail to see how the market has changed, and how this approach to old games has to change to accommodate that.

Whether or not this is better is up for debate, but one thing that is certain is that it was necessary to change.

Thanks for reading, don’t forget to hit those share buttons! Let us know what you think of thee retirement of this brand, and Happy Gaming!

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