Disproving the “Retail vs Digital” conspiracy theory

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.

stocknotmyproblem 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.

9 thoughts on “Disproving the “Retail vs Digital” conspiracy theory

  1. A) Digital sucks and I’m only going into an all-digital generation kicking and screaming.
    B) Luigi’s Mansion was the first Nintendo game in quite some time that I haven’t just been able to buy off the shelf when I wanted a copy (of course, there are some games I make an effort to get at midnight. This was not one. Oops.) I was sadface, but I don’t think it’s some grand conspiracy to get me to buy digital. All Nintendo has to do for that is offer me double Club Nintendo coins or 20 year old VC games for free.


  2. I refuse Nintendo’s digital “Retail” games for one very simple reason, digital is more expensive than shipping a game from the otherside of the planet. Until the AUS/NZ e-shop represent actual exhange rates, not exchange rates from the 90’s, digital is out.


    1. True, I haven’t bought a single $70 AU digital game and it’s ridiculous that we don’t share the same standards. But like retail games, we can still “import” from the European eShop and save $10-20.


  3. If more freebies and unique `not able to survive in retail` games make it to both WiiU and 3DS eShop, I will happily support digital. Yet getting rid of backwards compatibility and needing a good internet connection to play games both new and old as a requirement? Fuck that shit up the ass.


  4. I’m one of those “old” people, and I’ll keep buying physical copies until it’s no longer possible.
    … for the most part. Animal Crossing will most likely be the first major Ninty retail title I download out of sheer convenience of not having to swap out carts each time I want to check my town.


  5. I think they’re trying to accurately judge how many copies will sell at retail. LM: Dark Moon sold 85% of it’s first week shipment (in Japan, I think). So, I don’t think they’re trying to trick people into buying digital, but they know that there will be a section of people who will buy digital. If they can accurately judge how much of a game will sell digital and how much it well sell at retail, then they might ship less simply because they think they’ll still meet everyone’s needs while also saving themselves money.


  6. I got digital…. wanna know why? Because I live in Jamaica. Before the digital age I use to buy games from amazon then ship it to my mom in the usa then she in turn go to the post office and ship it to me. That would take like 3 weeks after the games are released. I use to hate waiting, I would have to read on the internet other people experience of the games and it got me more anxious.

    Now????/ as the games are release I have them. DAY ONE!!!!!!! No worries. I am happy with that. both for my 3ds and the wii u. So I have no complaint it’s so much more convenient for me. But if I was living in the US then I know I would get retail.


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