Just A Thought On Revolution Downloads

So who started the story that classic game downloads on Nintendo Revolution will be free of charge? Actually, I don’t care where it came from, because it’s obviously false.

Nintendo discovered with the ‘NES Classics’ on Game Boy Advance how much people are willing to pay for carbon copies of games from the eighties. So while they might, for example, give away a classic ‘Mario’ with a new release, or as a special promotion, they’re not going to give them all away anytime soon.

(Also, why are people copying that list of 200+ downloadable Nintendo games, including such gems as ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ for Nintendo 64 — which turned out to be the development team behind ‘Pokémon Snap’, not a game.)

So how is Nintendo going to deal with micropayments? Well, they might enable you to pay with your credit card, but knowing Nintendo they’ll focus their attention on prepaid cards. And here’s another thought — I’d say they’ll bring in the web-based Star Catalog system that’s already quite popular in Europe and Japan.

If you haven’t heard about it, here’s how it works: with every boxed game you buy, you get a coupon with a unique code. After logging in at your local Nintendo website, you can exchange this code for stars. As soon as you’ve accumulated enough of them, you can use your stars to buy digital stuff like desktop backgrounds and screensavers — and, every once in a while, real world goodies. For example, at one point Nintendo used the service to give away the ‘Zelda’ bonus disc that came with the first run of ‘The Wind Waker’.

While succesful, the Star Catalog presents Nintendo with quite a bit of a problem. As it turns out gamers don’t care about digital assets they can download elsewhere for free. They only care about stuff that actually costs money. What Nintendo found out is people wait until actual goodies become available, then rush to get them — and if they’re too late, often a matter of minutes, complain that the stars they worked so hard to save up are worthless.

I’d say it’s quite a logical step for Nintendo to connect the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to the Star Catalog — and introduce it in the United States in the process. Being able to purchase and download classic Nintendo games using stars as credits would solve Nintendo’s Empty Catalog Problem — and, thinking about it, would probably even enable the company to sell additional stars. (Which they could call ‘Prepaid Star Cards’.)

In closing, just because I want to get it off my chest, here’s my vote for Nintendo to introduce wireless NES, SNES and N64 controllers. I’d buy them.

Update: it has been brought to my attention that a system similar to the Star Catalog is already in use in the US. That should make it even easier to link it to Wi-Fi, then.