Lately we’ve seen some stock issues with key Nintendo games all around the world, including Monster Hunter in Europe, Fire Emblem and Lego City in the USA, and now Luigi’s Mansion is becoming difficult to obtain in the Year of Buying Luigi Games. Rather than being an indication that these games are selling well, it’s led to conspiracy theories that Nintendo’s short shipping games on purpose in some evil scheme to “force” the eShop on us. This seems to happen every time a Nintendo product sells well, going back to the Wii and DS days where Nintendo created “artificial shortages” for the fastest selling systems in history at the time. While I think limiting the sales potential of a product has some great upsides, it’s certainly not part of Nintendo’s plan.
Firstly, it’s happening in Australia too. Nintendo Australia are way too stupid to pull off such an elaborate scheme and we have the worst eShop in the world, with spelling errors, incorrect release dates, multiple release dates for the same game, and we miss out on a lot of content because you have to jump through hoops to get a game approved here. Encouraging somebody to visit this wasteland of ineptness is the last thing I’d expect from a company who has employed a blind monkey for eShop maintenance duties.
Secondly, retail stores are full. There’s TOO MANY GAMES and stores just can’t hold every single one. At the moment we have DS, 3DS, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PS2 (yes, still), PC and Vita all competing for the same two shelves in Big W. If you’re a dedicated gaming store then you can have a different shelf for each of these, but realistically it’s more efficient to send out products evenly through all stores and this is where things get sticky. Retailers have been moaning a LOT lately, and to me it seems unfair to place the blame solely on Nintendo when they’ve already got this pressure on them. It’s the same story with gamers not buying the “hardcore” games they ask for, ignoring new IPs and complaining when Nintendo announces a sequel. Nintendo lost confidence in gamers, they lost confidence in the media and introduced Nintendo Direct, and now they’re losing confidence in retailers.
If this is some behind-the-scenes plot to steal more dollars from consumers, Nintendo wouldn’t be openly apologising about the stock shortages (Shibata has more important things to do). The response would be more akin to the Microsoft “deal with it” approach with sneering and arrogance.
It’s not an ideal situation but it’s simple a necessity of the convergence period. Retail gaming’s future is shaky and not sustainable with new consoles coming from all directions and 12 different versions of every Ubisoft game. Digital games have been gaining momentum for a while now, with a lot of amazing eShop exclusive games and things like Playstation Plus providing more value. Nintendo’s not saying “deal with it” because retail relations are still an important part of their strategy. However, I am. Digital is coming whether you’re ready for it or not, and it does have a lot of advantages. I know manuals and boxes mean a lot to some people but after moving house with 5 huge containers of games in a truck, I’m firmly on the digital bandwagon. Nevertheless, this is not an article to convince anybody to switch to digital, moreso an attempt to explain Nintendo’s position. With Microsoft attempting to go with an online-only console and block out used-games, and Sony giving out free games in Playstation Plus; Nintendo might be the last friends retail stores have.