I’d like to clarify something I might not have clarified earlier: while Wii U owners who transferred their Virtual Console games over from Wii have to pay an extra $1 to upgrade their NES games and $1.50 to upgrade their SNES games to Wii U versions, Wii U Virtual Console games purchased for the first time will cost the same as their Wii counterparts. That means $5 for most NES games and $8 for most SNES games – there won’t be an added cost for the added Wii U features.
That may seem good and well… but there’s something wrong with this picture. Why are loyal customers paying more money to play their digital Virtual Console catalog on Wii U? I think people who are being asked to pay the “loyal customer upgrade fee” should be very, very angry with Nintendo.
In terms of the product itself, Wii U Virtual Console is pretty much exactly what people want for the system. It’s got Off-TV Play, supports a myriad of controller options, adds in Restore Point save states, and even allows players to customize their control schemes for each game and each controller based on their preferences. Sounds like a retro fan’s dream come true, right?
Sure – except when you consider that there’s a not-so-hidden cost for people who have already bought these games before. Former Wii owners, who Nintendo already knows has paid in the neighborhood of $200-250 for Wii last-gen so they could play these games before, are now being asked to pay even more than other customers for the exact same product?
It wouldn’t be such a big deal if the value added to Wii U Virtual Console compared to its Wii incarnation resulted in an across-the-board price increase. That would make sense – as the service improves, it makes sense for the cost to rise. Former Wii owners would then be making up the difference between the original Wii VC costs and the added costs of the Wii U VC. But that’s not what happened. Nintendo still thinks people should pay $5 to download Super Mario Bros. on Wii U…unless they bought it on Wii already. Then they have to pay an extra $1 for the courtesy of being allowed to re-download it with new Wii U features.
There’s something seriously backwards about this approach. This doesn’t inspire confidence that a digital library on Nintendo’s system will be forward compatible with every future system – it suggests that Nintendo’s going to keep making us pay up even more with every new generation for the same games we’ve already purchased. This has already been one of the biggest complaints leveraged against Nintendo’s account system – that it just doesn’t do the things that a digital account should do – and the “loyal customer tax” Nintendo’s asking VC fans to pay to get the same stuff that’s part of the out-of-the-box proposition for other Wii U owners adds insult to injury.