Nintendo and Used Games: They Have the Right Idea - Will Sora Layton Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Nintendo and Used Games: They Have the Right Idea

Since the reveal of Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the gaming industry has really been focused on the controversy of used games. The rumors and conflicting statements from both Sony and Microsoft concerning their policies toward used games have led to many discussions about the subject, and even cheering when Sony announced that PlayStation 4 would support used games (which was followed by the fact that Sony said it's actually the choice of the publisher). However, the controversy hasn't really included Nintendo, which is a shame, because I feel like they have the best policy already set forward. 

The Big N has it right.

There are a couple of justifications I have for why Nintendo already has one of the best policies imaginable towards used games. In general though, what's great about the policy they have is that it looks to benefit the company and the consumer at once-they provide incentives to buy games new, but don't punish us if we buy them used.

Totally worth it to me.

First, here's the biggest reason that I myself buy my Nintendo games new, but when I buy other games, I usually don't: Club Nintendo. The "club", for those not in the know, is a service that allows Nintendo customers to redeem a code within the consoles/games they buy for coins. These coins may then be used to purchase free Nintendo items, such as Wii Remote holders, DS pouches, and posters. The small piece of paper is only able to be used once-if you buy a used game, unless the person before you didn't use it and left it in the case, you aren't going to get those coins. Of course, this is entirely optional for consumers, and doesn't affect the game experience in any way. However, I have found myself the last couple of years only buying Nintendo games new (when they come out-if I'm purchasing a super old game, I'm going to buy used. But, if it's fairly new, I'll pay the full price). It's something simple, but because of Club Nintendo, Nintendo has been getting all my money, and will continue to do so. 

Besides the fact that I don't feel like waiting for games, I just want to get those few coins, especially because getting enough will net you a Gold or Platinum status, letting you receive a free gift (this resets every year). While this service isn't for everyone, I think the fact that it exists gives Nintendo a leverage over Microsoft and Sony, because as far as I know, they do not offer any such rewards. Club Nintendo even lets you buy free games-right now, if I wanted to, I could get Super Mario Bros. 3 for 150 coins, which is basically 3 games in total. Sure, you need to buy games a bit often to really take advantage of the service, but it's still a great thing for people like me who are willing to pay the extra money for this reward.

Sure, it's short, but I've beaten it several times.

Next, is a reason that Reggie Fils-Aime has recently stated, in light of the aforementioned recent controversy over the policy. His statement talked about how Nintendo isn't really worried about used game sales, because they try to make their games have a strong amount of replayability. I may have traded in Nintendo games, but usually, it'll be a 3rd party title on a Nintendo system-rarely have I ever traded in a first party Nintendo game, simply because I do end up going back to them. If my Super Smash Bros. Brawl disc worked, I would play it more often now, because years later, that game is still great, and I'd play it over something like Skyrim, because I simply found the content so extensive and rich within the game. Other games include Legend of Zelda titles, Mario Kart, and Pokemon; I've set at least 50 hours into multiple Zelda's, over 300 in Mario Kart, and at least 1000 overall in the Pokemon series (including spin-offs-I've beaten Shadows of Almia and Explorers of Time both at least 3 times). Even though I don't play all of these titles anymore, I can't bring myself to trade them in, because I enjoyed them so much and poured tons of time into them.

The sort of thought process that Reggie mentions is also one that is important-the fact that they're not worried about used games. First, they realize that some people like to do that, as Reggie mentions "We understand that used games are a way for some consumers to monetize their games. They will buy a game, play it, bring it back to their retailer to get credit for their next purchase". However, they also focus on providing rich experiences for gamers, which creates an incentive to buy a game new at launch, which, coupled with the Club Nintendo benefit, gives the consumer more band for their buck. In contrast, while Microsoft and Sony are trying to put out great titles (and both look to do so in the future), their mishandling of the used games debate creates the thought that they are worried about them hurting their financial stability. Nintendo, however, counters this, as they defy the used game trend the other two experience: "So we see that the trade-in frequency on Nintendo content is much less than the industry average – much, much less". 

What this says also can say volumes about consumers-sure, gamers want to have new and rich experiences in almost every game they buy, but are some more impatient than others? Nintendo has been trying to put out titles that last, and give the consumer a reason to come back, so they don't have to worry about software droughts, nor about a person trading in a game. People complain that Nintendo doesn't have enough games, but that may be because they're trying something different-instead of a 12 hour campaign game that you may trade back in, they're trying to provide a lasting experience. I spent quite a while getting all the Star Coins in New Super Mario Bros. U for example, and plan on doing the same with New Super Luigi U. That game lasted me a good while, and isn't one I think about trading in, because I know I'm going to go through it again someday. However, if the Microsoft/Sony fanbase is any indicator, it seems as though they want more contained experiences, and want to move on from the next, hence the wish to buy, trade in, and then buy the next title used. I'm not saying all those that play on those systems do this, nor that Nintendo fans don't do that-it's just something that, given the way sales happen, I've thought about as a logical conclusion to be drawn. It seems that even though Nintendo is the most lenient towards used games, they actually have more purchases new than the other two.

Well, those are my thoughts. I will continue to buy my Nintendo games used, and feel like Nintendo really has provided good incentives for me to buy their products new. Sure, people can feel that these policies aren't good enough for them, but personally, I've recently realized this fact, that I will always buy Nintendo games new. Unless it is a must-have on another system, I might possibly wait until it comes out used, because I have before, and can again. 

He gave me enough reason. Your turn, Mattrick and Tretton. ;)

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