Every now and then, Nintendo pushes its luck a bit too far. This is one of those times.
That Nintendo does ridiculous and absurd things is accepted conventional wisdom. In general, these ridiculous decisions end up being annoyances and frustrations more than anything else, so people have largely made their peace with them. But every now and then, Nintendo does something ridiculous and absurd that is also outright, blatantly anti consumer to an almost contemptuous degree – and that’s when all the backlash hits all at once.
Right now is one of those times. People are angry at Nintendo, and rightly so, because of a series of decisions made around the long awaited Super Mario 3D All Stars Collection, a compilation of three 3D Mario games in one package for the Switch. This is something that’s been rumored for a while, so people have been able to reconcile themselves with some of the more questionable decisions (such as not including Super Mario Galaxy 2, arguably the best Mario game ever, in it). But, as I said, every so often, Nintendo’s ridiculous decisions stop being just stupid, and veer into the territory of being outright hostile towards their customers – and that’s what’s happened with this collection.
The rundown is simple – Super Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy have been thrown together in one package. It’s not a remaster, and the alterations are minimal, with Super Mario 64 not even converted to full screen (meaning you’ll have to play it in its original 4:3 aspect ratio). There are some nice extras (such as the soundtracks for all three games available in all their glory), but on the whole, you’re getting those three games pretty much as they were, and nothing more, for the price of $60.
You can make justifications for this, and most of them are valid, but it definitely is a bad look for Nintendo when a re-release of three of the most beloved games from their flagship IP with minimal effort put into it is full price, while other platforming series such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro got loving, full fledged remakes from the ground up in their entirety, and were sold at a budget price of $40 – a price disparity that becomes even more frustrating when you consider that Nintendo games literally never drop in price, while the Crash and Spyro trilogies have already been on sale a fair few times already.
This is pretty bad in and of itself, but the kicker comes with the announcement that the whole collection is available for a limited time only – through to March 31 2021, and that’s it. It won’t be on sale after that. To be clear, this isn’t just referring to physical copies at retail – the games will be taken down from sale after March next year, meaning if you haven’t gotten them by then, you won’t get them ever.
This is a very transparent attempt at creating FOMO and manipulating people into buying these now because of an overriding sense of urgency. Forget whatever hesitations or misgivings you might have had – it’s now or never, so go on and buy these now. Which means if you, for example, would ordinarily have decided that this collection doesn’t quite seem to be worth the asking price yet, but maybe you can have a look at it a few years down the line – nope, you don’t get that option. Essentially, Nintendo has corralled every single potential buyer who may have had any interest in buying this collection into this one six month window, all but bullying you into ignoring your apprehensions, and just getting the collection already.
It’s an unbelievably toxic maneuver. Nintendo has always been a bit shady about exploiting the hysteria created by scarcity of their products, but very rarely have they been as blatant in weaponizing it to the extent they have here. The icing on the cake is that the onset of the digital age was supposed to be a safeguard against this sort of thing from ever happening – a game may be out of print and impossible to find at retail, but you can always grab it from your platform’s digital storefront. Short of a rights dispute – which Nintendo does not have here, given that these are their games in their IP on their storefront for their console – a digital game is, in theory, on sale forever. There can be no “scarcity” of digital products, because there are no physical resources limiting their supply.
And yet, unbelievably enough, Nintendo has somehow managed to bring the economics of artificial scarcity to the digital arena too. And they haven’t even bothered masking their intention or action here – setting the deadline at the end of their fiscal year all but screams “this is us trying to hit our fiscal targets”. Except usually Nintendo doesn’t need to resort to such underhanded means to achieve those ends, because usually, they have amazing products that sell on the merit of being amazing. That Nintendo is pulling this stunt with this 3D All Stars collection shows us that Nintendo themselves don’t have much faith in its ability to hit the numbers they would want within the given time period.
The worst part here is, I think the collection would have sold well regardless. While it’s clear that not a lot of work has gone into updating 64, Sunshine, or Galaxy, the fact remains that these are amazing games, often regarded as among the best and most influential titles ever made. Simply having them available on sale on a modern system, portably, would probably be enough to spur sales in spite of there not being other bells and whistles. There was absolutely no need to do something like this.
The sad part is that, owing to the intrinsic quality of these games, the appeal of having them on the Switch, and, of course, Nintendo’s enforced artificial scarcity, every decision surrounding this collection will be validated. Because 3D All Stars will sell in ridiculous numbers, of course it will. And in the end, that ends up vindicating Nintendo’s decision.
I know Nintendo too well to hope they will change their mind or reverse course on this. While there is always the possibility that somewhere down the line, Mario 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy are sold piecemeal on the eShop, they’re not going to budge on the decision to keep this collection time limited. But what I do hope is that the not insignificant backlash to this move will at least cause them, and any other publisher who may have had ideas upon pulling anything remotely similar, to take pause and reconsider in the future.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.