Confession time: Sometimes I like to lurk through unfinished Infendo articles from years ago just for kicks. I found one by an apparently ex-Infendo writer named Michael titled “Should Super Mario Bros. Be Free to Play”. While the article wasn’t actually about making old Nintendo games free, it did get me thinking: Isn’t it about time we make the oldest titles part of a package deal with buying a new Nintendo console?
I know what I’m proposing isn’t a common occurrence in the gaming industry, but Nintendo is hardly a typical gaming company. The amount of games they create compared to their competitors is staggering, to the point where it is correct to refer to Nintendo as both a software and hardware giant. It should also be noted that Nintendo has an incredibly long history of making games that goes back over 3 decades; their library of titles is both colossal and highly rated. Finally, I would argue that Nintendo is a company that heralds innovation and unconventional thinking, which after factoring in my previous points, makes Nintendo the perfect platform for this rather unconventional new business model.
My pitch is this: Nintendo gets a team together to port a few of their best-selling classic titles to the Switch. Upon opening your new Switch, or any future Nintendo console, you already have access to the most successful NES titles, games like Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, Duck Hunt, Dr. Mario and Excitebike. Nothing crazy, just a few of the best selling titles that we’ve all bought a hundred times on a plethora of older systems.
My thought process on this is two fold: First, these titles can’t still be selling very well. The majority of people I’ve talked to have purchased these games multiple times and simply refuse to do so again. And those that aren’t interested enough in the old games just aren’t willing to spend $5 per game on titles they may get a few minutes of joy out of before never playing it again. My second argument for this idea is to help attract perspective new users to the Switch. There’s clearly more interest in the Switch from Sony and Microsoft fans than there was for the WiiU. Giving them a few free classic titles at launch is just another push towards hooking a new audience. While admittedly most of these gamers might not be interested in playing a game like Duck Hunt, there’s bound to be a number of people from this crowd who grew up on the NES before getting their first Playstation, who would enjoy the nostalgia these games could provide.
Detractors might argue that the NES Classic kills this idea, since everyone who wanted to purchase a console filled with these games did so when they had the chance. Aside from the obvious argument that not everyone was able to obtain NES Classics, I would argue that these systems actually prove my point. People are willing to pay $60 to replay some of their old favourites. Imagine getting those titles for free, just for buying the latest and greatest gaming machine.
Nintendo has been rehashing their earliest games for years. They’ve been available for download on virtually every system since the Wii, and most of these titles even had remakes dating back years before downloading was even an option. They simply can’t expect to make that much money by re-releasing these games on their newest system. Rather, using these games as yet another reason to attract perspective customers to the Switch seems like a smart idea. Let these games serve some use aside from just being bargain-bin eshop titles.