Thursday, November 30, 2006

Some Thoughts on the VC Release Schedule

This little graphic has popped up on a couple of gaming blogs already, so I thought it might be a good time to bring the subject up again. I wrote about the Virtual Console games that will be released in Japan this year a couple posts ago (look, it's right down there), so if you're not familiar with them, go take a look.

Now, as you would expect, the American kids are upset because the Japanese kids get to play so many more games on their VC's than we can over here. While you're having to settle for a handful of emulated titles, those lucky kids over there will get to choose from Castlevania and Contra and R-Type and Adventure Island and two dozen more games - all on day one. What's the deal with that?

I think Nintendo made two big mistakes in regards to their new console. One, the Wii is region-locked, which means you can't import any games. Two, the VC games cannot be transferred from one console to another. You can't store them on, say, that memory card you're also using on your digital camera.

I can understand Nintendo's desire to clamp down on piracy, not to say all of us who would just make endless copies of our games. This isn't a charity they're running. They're in this business to make money. Sorry, kids, them's the brakes. But, still, this is a bit much. It's overkill.

The best thing to do, then, is to release everything on the VC as quickly as possible. There's no reason that one region gets only 12 games, while another region gets 36. You do know that you can download all of these games online for free, right? This, dear readers, is a formula for growing a lot of disgruntled customers.

I'm assuming at this point that the VC situation is only temporary, and that all the Japanese games will be available in America. For now, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. But if we're still making complaints six months down the road, then Nintendo's going to have a serious problem on its hands. Those core gamers are going to stop lining up with their plastic cards, and they're going to stop buying VC games.

Heck, I've often said that there's no real reason to invest in VC until Nintendo implements online multiplayer. If and when that happens, then they'll have a winning formula. Then I'll gladly pony up the cash - $5-$10 per game. Until then, no dice. You know the emulators will be up and running before too long, so there's no pressure to buy in.

I'm a defender of the Virtual Console, or at least the idea of the Virtual Console. But the minds at Nintendo need to sit down and figure out, once and for all, what they want to do with it. But allow me to offer a piece of crucial advice; heck, I'll make a plaque for you. It'll read like this:

Rules for Virtual Console
#1 - Online Multiplayer
#2 - Get the Damn Games Out
#3 - Don't Piss Off Your Fans

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